.@Livinginperu ::: #Hats_Off_to_Peru!… #HATS in Peru are not only a #fashion_symbol, they are a #symbol of the #individual _who_wears_one. #David_Stephens.

¡ #Quitarse_el_sombrero_por_el_Perú !…
Los #SOMBREROS en el #Perú no son solo un #símbolo_de_moda, son un #símbolo del #individuo_que_los_usa.
Ya sea que represente el estado marcial, el lugar de origen o sus intenciones, el sombrero puede decírselo todo. Siga leyendo para conocer los distintos tipos de sombreros del Perú y su significado simbólico.

Whether representing #martial_status, #place_of_origin or their #intentions, the hat can tell you all. Read on to learn about the #various #types of #hats of Peru and their #symbolic_meaning.

A particular feature of Peru is the amazingly colorful and, to the outsider, strange-looking hats people like to wear. When you look more closely, you will notice that the style of these unique hats often changes from one region to the next. As a matter of fact, until a few years ago, locals were able to tell which village somebody came from just by looking at their headwear.Experience Peru from your home! Check out our Virtual Experiences here.

Hats as a Peruvian characteristic

Photo source: Andina.pe

My father-in-law was a respected barrister who worked in the city of London. Every morning – so my wife tells me – he would set off to work with a copy of The Times under his arm, his rolled umbrella in the other hand, and a bowler hat on his head. So, let’s learn a little more about three hats Peruvians like to wear: the bowler, the chullo, and lastly, that hat which we will come to later.

Bowlers: From London to the Andes

First, the bowler to be found on the head of my father-in-law or an Andean woman sitting in a market selling her produce.

Photo Source: ricfrancis. WordPress

The bowler is said to have been designed in London in 1849 by the London hat-makers Thomas and William Bowler to fulfill an order by the company of hatters James Lock & Co. of St James’s which had been asked to design a close-fitting, low crowned hat to protect gamekeepers from low-hanging branches whilst on horseback at Holkham Hall, the estate of Thomas Coke, Ist Earl of Leicester in Norfolk – where incidentally my family like to go camping when we are in England. The gamekeepers had previously worn top hats which were easily knocked off and damaged. So the bowler was born.

It was introduced into Bolivia and Peru in the 19th Century by British railway workers.  Like the gamekeepers of Norfolk, they thought the bowler would not blow off easily in strong winds while riding a horse, or when sticking their head out the window of a speeding train. But when the first shipment arrived from England, it was discovered the hats were much too small for the working men.  Instead of throwing them away, they were sold to local Quechua and Amara women after convincing them that the small bowler – or bombin in Spanish – was quite the fashion in Europe.

Bowlers used as a martial indication

There is a legend that women, who wear bowler hats, have no problems with fertility; and the way the hat is worn is also important The place, where the hat is placed on the head, is a clear sign of the marital status of the woman. If it’s on the top of the head, it means that the woman is married. If the bowler is on the side of the head, it means that the woman is single or a widow. Bolivians joke that the hat on the back of the head means that the relationship is ‘complicated’. For many years, a factory in Italy manufactured bowlers for the South American market, but now they are made locally. It is not just Andean women who like the bowler. Who can forget bowler-wearing John Steed of the British TV series, The Avengers or Oddjob in Goldfinger with his razor-sharp hat? And on a gentler note, who can forget Laurel of Laurel & Hardy tearfully clutching his small bowler hat?

The Chullo: The iconic Peruvian hat

Let’s turn now to our second Peruvian hat, the chullo. This hat has been used in the Andean Mountain region by its indigenous people for thousands of years. The different colors, patterns, and weaves have significance throughout the region as they are often used to distinguish between communities. While for many years it was seen as an unfashionable mark of the lowest class of Peruvian society, the chullo has always been an integral part of the nation’s cultural fabric.

A debatable origin

Although the chullo is iconic to the Andes, there is some disagreement about its origin. As Arturo Jimenez Borja says in his book Indumentaria Tradicional Andina (Traditional casa Andean Clothing), archeological evidence shows that headwear in the Basque country of Spain was shaped more like the chullo than that of pre-colonial Peru, where the four-pointed Huari was the hat of choice. Other academics fiercely defend the chullo’s pre-Hispanic origins and so the debate continues.

Authentic Andean chullos are popular souvenirs for visitors who want to bring home a reminder of Peruvian culture. Many modern clothing designers add feathers, pompoms, tassels, and other additional adornments to their hats, but these tend to be added in questionable taste and without respect to Andean cultures. The best chullos can be purchased in and around Cusco, particularly in towns where the chullo still has cultural significance.

How chullos represent a man’s intention

And talking of culture, in Cusco, the chullo is used by a man to express his intentions of marriage, its design reflecting his wealth and status. In Puno, for example, the hat tells you something of the marital status of its wearer – single, married, or separated – depending on the colors and style when wearing it. Moreover, it is known that a man is only ready to marry when he is able to knit a chullo by himself, without mistakes, and with a fine design and fabric.

That tall sombrero

So, finally that hat, the tall, wide-brimmed straw sombrero popular in Cajamarca and worn with pride by President Pedro Castillo.

Photo Source: dw.com

This hat is worn by both men and women. It is made from paja, which means ‘reed’ but which is in fact the mid-rib of the palm tree frond. The material is woven and shaped by hand, resulting in a durable, light, and crushable hat. You can screw it up into a ball and have it spring back into shape with a flick of the wrist. Perhaps the best example of this kind of hat is that produced in Celendin, 100 kilometers north-east of Cajamarca.

Celedín, the City of Hats

Celendín is home to roughly 25,000 people in the verdant and mountainous Cordillera Central. High-topped and wide-brimmed, Celendín hats can take anywhere from weeks to months to be created made of individual toquilla-straw – the same material used in the iconic ‘Panama hat’ – which by the way was not made in Panama but in Ecuador for workers digging the famous canal. As you enter Celendin, you are greeted by a giant hat-shaped gazebo that lets you know you’re in the home of the Sombrero Celendino. Visitors can take in some shade under the giant hat and watch the daily Celendín life pass by. The Celendín hat, thanks to its toquilla straw – and its hand-woven production – is representative of the skills of the people who live in this part of Peru. In this City of Hats, women spend entire days weaving them, following a family tradition that has survived the passage of time.

So, just three hats are to be found amongst the many of Peru. And my own favorite? Well, I live in Barranco, a suburb of Lima not known for its rain, so no bowler and no rolled umbrella, but you will find me walking to work with the latest copy of The Times – kindle version of course – neatly tucked under my arm.


Cover photo source from insight-egypt.com

David Stephens

David Stephens lives for eight months of the year in Lima, Peru, and the remainder in Brighton, where he works part-time as a university professor. Not wanting to spend his days in Lima tied to the desk, he set up the Lima Writers Group which is now flourishing. His first novel was a campus satire, Purely Academic, published by Arena Books and he is working on a cycle of interlinked stories, Acts of Disappearance, set in Peru and focusing on the missing and the disappeared. It also draws inspiration from South American writers’ use of magical realism.
bowlercastillo hatceledinchullocity of hatshat symbolismhatshistoryPerustrawstraw hatsymbolstall straw hattourismtraveling in peru

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