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What’s the difference? - Ruanas, Shawls, Sarapes and more!

Posted by Deirdre Murray on

A question we get pretty frequently here on is ‘What is a ruana and how is it different to a shawl or a wrap?’ Well apparently there are many differences and I’m here to help you find which style is best for you!

Ruana: This actually came as a surprise to me but Ruana’s are originally from the Andes region of Venezuella. The word ruana comes from the ‘Chibcha’ meaning “Lord of Blankets”. They are usually square or rectangle shaped with a head hole and a slit from that hole down the middle to the edge. They’re very thick, soft, sleeveless and are usually knee length. In Ireland, we often wear them with one side thrown over the opposite shoulder and pinned with a nice brooch. Here are some of our very own Ruanas:

Shawl: Shawls are usually long and rectangular; almost like a scarf. The material is often lighter. They are thrown over your arms loosely to cover your lower back or can be worn with more tension to cover your upper arms and upper back. We have many shawls in stock. Which one is your favourite?


Poncho: A poncho is fairly similar to a Ruana except it is shorter and does not have the slit. They usually drop to about waist length and are often made from wool and other warm materials (unless you’re at a concert - in which case they’re plastic and usually covered in rain or beer). Poncho’s are great in winter for keeping the chill off your back and arms. Here are some of my favourite ponchos. They’re so soft and warm.        


Sarape: Sarapes (or serapes - depending on where you’re from) are very similar to ponchos - simply longer. They are also sleeveless with only a hole for your head. They originally come from Mexico and are very blanket-like and warm.

I hope this helps to show the differences between each of these. You can always find out more on our website:


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  • Thank you I have been finding the difference for some time and I just learned of a Ruana.

    Hunerdosse-Lisk Sandra Lee on

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Biddy Murphy
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