INTRODUCING PRINCE PANAMA’S JAUNTS
Holá! Let me introduce myself, I’m Prince Panama, and I was thinking it’s high time I try some of this blogging stuff! So I’ve decided to take over BE-LAVIE and make my blogging debut!
Be takes such good care of me both at home and when we travel. In return I make sure that I’m always around on those hot sunny days when she needs me to keep her nice and cool. Even when the weather’s not sun drenchingly good, I like to be on stand-by. I’m sure you’ll agree, with my killer looks having me around makes her look well, oh so chic! We really are the prefect partnership!
Well, I’ve been very lucky since I found Be, or should I say she found me! She has taken me on many adventures, but the most memorable was back to my home continent…
Let me tell you a bit about myself…
Please don’t get confused when I say I am actually from Ecuador, even though I’m called Panama! This is because like a lot of South American goods made during the 19th and 20th centuries, hats were sent to Panama to be shipped off to the rest of the world. Therefore the name Panama became synonymous with the hat. So now you see my roots from Ecuador, see what I did there?
My life started as a bunch of palm straws called toquilla found in the equatorial rain forests in Ecuador.
The heart of the plant, the cogollo, is the perfect material for creating baby hair-fine straw for a high-quality Panama hat. Dozens of cogollos may be required to create a single hat and each one is harvested by hand from wild plants in the forest. The stalks of the plant are then painstaking separated by hand and boiled briefly before drying. Once dry, the fibres are bleached in sulphur smoke and then split into even finer straws.
The weaving begins with the centre most part of the hat, the crown and is then woven outwards in a circular pattern. Once the crown is large enough, it is placed on a waist-high tripod that is topped with a hat block in the shape of the crown. Once the weaving extends over the edges of the block, the weaver will place several more blocks on top of it, as well as a small cushion. He or she will then lean over the cushioned tripod, using their body weight to hold down the weaving. It is quite literally back breaking work. A single very fine hat can take months to weave; the record is eight months for the finest-known hat to have been produced.
The making of me in pictures (Photo Courtesy : Intangiable Cultural Heritage)
Once the weaver approaches the edge of the brim, the unfinished hat is passed off to a handful of additional skilled artisans for finishing. First, an artisan finishes the edge of the brim with a loose back weave. The second artisan tightens the back weave. The third cuts the excess straw from the brim. For a very fine hat, this straw will be saved so that any needed repairs can be made from the same straw. The hats are then washed and bleached before being sent to the fourth artisan, who then pounds the hats with sulphur powder to soften them. Finally, the hats are trimmed and ironed into a form that begins to resemble a finished hat. Blocking (or shaping the hat into the form) is the final step of making me look ship shape.
I don’t fully feel dressed though until a black high quality ribbon and bow are added to my neck, apparently this was influenced by the English during the reign of Queen Victoria!
To commemorate this very skilled process, in 2012, hand weaving of Panama hast was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
So you see, I’m quite a special kind of guy!
MY TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS IN SOUTH AMERICA
I have stood on Corcovado Mountain and met Christ the Redeemer. Woah was that great!!
I’ve had a fantastic views of Copacabana Beach – how lucky am I? The sun shone bright for me
I saw a less glamorous side of Rio de Janeiro, in the form of The Roschina Favella
I braved the high altitude and visited the Incan Citadel, Machu Picchu
As you can imagine, I’ve stayed in some swanky hotels too, one of my favourites was the Belmond Copacabana, right outside Copacabana beach and where Marilyn Monroe once stayed! Gosh, I’m just so pampered!
You know what my travels didn’t end when I left South America though, I’ve literally been all over so if you enjoyed reading about me, I may come back with more of my jaunts soon…
If you did and would like me to return, then let me know below in the comments and I’ll see what I can do. I have lots more outings planned, so watch this space – as they say, I’ll be back!
For more information, feel free to visit
Intangible Cultural Heritage
That’s all from me for now…
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