Colombia_hat

Colombian Hats and History: Art and Design

Written by Hank Martin in S. America

Look around you. Look at yourself. What are you wearing today? What do your clothes tell the world about you? What do they say about the culture we live in?

Today, many of our clothes have evolved past the practical and into a different arena completely. Take the suit for example, or the tie? Chuck Palahniuk put it best. Why, when we have spent thousands of years elevating ourselves out of the caves to skyscrapers, do we still wear one of the most constricting pieces of clothing ever designed: the neck tie.

But around the world there are still places that have and hold on to traditional dress and attire.

Take the vueltiao, a traditional black/ dark brown and white Colombian hat. It looks like it was made by a blind man. But, although the hat may look simple and kind of weird with all of its stripes and triangles the process to make it is complex.

Ancient people made this hat from vegetable fibre fabrics, specifically a type of cane plant that grows in Colombia. Imagine wearing a vegetable on your head!

How a Vueltiao Sombrero is made

The canes are cut into strips and dried. The strips that haven't dried white are soaked in mud, boiled, and dried again. This process is repeated as many times as is necessary to create a uniform black color in all of the strips. Talk about a piece of clothing that requires extreme attention to detail in the production process.

After the white and black strips are dried they are woven into braids using ancient techniques. Later, these braids are used to make the hat. The braids are unique, and often tell a story. Wearing one of these hats is like wearing a book on your head.

Symbols

The hats often include animals and symbols. The design, or pinta, of the hat is an identity mark labeling which tribe you are from. This was especially popular among the indigenous people of the San Andreas de Sotavento.

In addition, the patterns and animals are abstractions in geometrical form. Curious to know what some of the designs look like? Take a look below and see if you can figure out what each design is.

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Author

Hank Martin

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Traveling for a world education and writing about the life lessons learned.

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