The Government of Paraguay has issued a decree whereby civil servants are encouraged to wear clothing made of the ancestral ao po'i fabric on Fridays to promote and protect the country's heritage.
The typical clothing dates back to the 19th century and is emblematic of Paraguay. The ao po’i embroidery, which means in Guaraní fine cloth or delicate garment, first appeared in the town of Yataity del Guairá, in the department of Guairá, in the central Paraguayan region, under dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (1816-1840), who, to ensure independence, militarized the borders, including the exchange of goods, to which Buenos Aires responded with a commercial blockade.
Faced with the impossibility of obtaining inputs to make clothes with raw materials from abroad, Paraguayan women began to devise their own techniques to process national cotton. Thus, through looms they made canvases that they adorned with painstaking embroidery that used frayed, festoons and cross stitch.
In addition to clothing, tablecloths and other accessories that are characteristic of the South American country are made. Although its production has now been industrialized, it is still practiced in a traditional way by thousands of cultivators who maintain the tradition in Yataity del Guairá.
In 2004, Law No. 2,448 was passed mandating the Government to promote this type of clothing to contribute to the national identity. In April 2009, Decree No. 1,762 was issued, where the Executive declared the promotion and use of garments made of ao po'i in public offices of national interest. In 2018, Decree No. 739 insisted on the need for its use in these state institutions.
In Article 1 of Decree No. 6,501, issued in 2016, State agencies and entities were empowered to implement and develop regulations for the use of appropriate clothing for the summer season by public officials. This attire had to be composed of the ao po'i fabric, which is a historical and cultural heritage. Therefore, the Executive determined that it could be used once a week to encourage and promote Paraguayan industry and crafts.
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