Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Native peoples > Colla

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Economy

The Colla’s traditional economy is based on herding and, to a lesser degree, agriculture. In former times, the Collas had a more diversified economy that included firewood extraction for coal production and trans-Andean economic exchange. Herding primarily focused on goats although also included mules, horses and llamas to a lesser degree. Herders migrated seasonally with their livestock in search pasture and water, moving from winter to summer grazing grounds in the foothills. Today, herding is still practiced by some Collas in Potrerillos and Quebrada de Paipote, while those near the Jorquera River engage in limited alfalfa farming and goat herding, maintaining their (minor) importance in the local economy. Today, most Collas live in urban zones where they work as salaried employees or homemakers. Colla craftspeople produced abundant textiles and leather goods in decades past, and manufactured clothing such as large ponchos, blankets and hats (called coipas), riding tack such as woolen saddlebags and leather tack for horses and mules. Very few Collas continue to practice these traditional crafts today.