Panama Hats history in Colombia


The Panama History in Colombia (called Jipi Japa Hats)

By: Martínez Carreño, Aida, 1940-

It was taking Banco de la Republica Actividad Cultural. Credencial historia # 143.The female hats industry.


 
Vignette of "Journey to the Sierra Nevada",
Of Elíseo Reclus, 1869.



In August of 1850 a commission of notables integrated by Rufino Cuervo, Jose Manuel Restrepo, Lino de Pombo, Pedro Fernandez Madrid and Juan Manuel Arrubla had published in the press Bogota a notice to promote the participation of the national manufacturers cu the Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations that was to be held in London in 1851. For the occasion they called the most significant of the local industry, represented, according to its own enumeration, "tissues of pitch, straw, pita, wool or vegetal silks. Tanned, curious samples of hammocks, cotton and wool blankets, ruanas or ponchos, cloths, cloths, pellones, paper, earthenware, varnished woodworks. Wax, rubber, wood and metals. "

This relation of objects manufactured by artisans dispersed in different parts of the country, who for the necessity of the moment were assimilated to "industrial", denoted the slow development of the factory: excluding crockery and paper, which were new products, was not yet perceived The anticipated advance with the protectionist norms adopted from independence, and not even a remarkable change when comparing it with the situation described by El Argos in 1838, according to which the intended advance of the Grenadines manufactures was reduced to " Pasto sends to Popayán some fabrics of wool and furniture given of vegetal varnish, Bogota also manufactures ruanas and blankets of wool, Tunja the same and some ordinary cotton canvases, El Socorro takes care of the manufacture of these canvases although diminished a lot; Palm hats called jipijapa are made in the contours of Girón, Antioquia, Ibagué and Valle del Cauca ... "



 



Weavers of jipijapa hats from the province of Neiva.
Watercolor by Manuel María Paz, 1857.
Album of the Corographic Commission, National Library, Bogota.


In the whole described, the only novel thing was the production of jipijapas that had arisen without planning, without financing or governmental protection. Shadow factories, also raised in the shade, produced the only national manufacturing that had a market abroad for more than fifty years. The elaboration of toquilla straw hats came from Ecuador, where various objects were woven with this fiber from before the conquest; Scientifically baptized as Carludovica palmata to honor Charles IV and his wife Maria Luisa, was abundant in the mountainous parts of the coast and in eastern Ecuador; At the beginning of the 19th century it began to be cultivated in Nariño and there it was called jipijapa, by the region of Ecuador from which it came; The manufacture of hats spread to the northern regions of the country and especially in those of warm climate where it was easy to get the raw material, sometimes wild, sometimes cultivated; Their names varied according to the locality and indistinctly it was known as palmilla, palmiche, murrapo, iraca or nacuma.

 



Arriero and weaver of hats of Vélez.
Watercolor by Carmelo Fernández, 1850.
National Library, Bogota.



Weaving hats was a primordially feminine activity and among those who supported it - parish priests, educators or neighbors of good will -, the purposes of contributing to the health and morality of the popular classes prevail over economic motivations or factory illusions. The "surplus women", almost 10% according to the 1851 census, the educational trends that gave the greatest importance to the learning of arts and crafts, the failure of repressive means to reduce prostitution and vagrancy led many to seek For them an office that would put them in the cover of misery; In the middle of the century, Manuel Ancízar noted with admiration that in Barichara the wealthy neighbors had installed eight free workshops to teach knitting hats, and there he saw a hundred young people "gathered around the teacher, leaning over the white bunch of Nacuma [...] all of them content to be busy and having a safe gain before their eyes ... "



Helped by the children in their homes, the women assumed this first experience of paid work that made visible a great productive force; Their capacity, not valued until then, was the key to success, and while formally established industries - loza, glass, beer or paper - faced economic crises or lost their workers (always the first to be recruited by governments for recurring wars ) The hatters, indifferent to pronouncements and revolutions, without scheduled schedule or scheduled breaks, locked in their houses, work



 

By: Martínez Carreño, Aida, 1940-





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Carludovica Palmata o Toquilla Palm

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The paIm to  weave one Panama Hats, is called Toquilla Palm, but the real name is Carludovica Palmata.

It is a plant from hight temperature, that grow from 1.50 m to 2.50 m, depending of the zone. It has a lot of leaves and beautiful flowers.



It  is a widespread neotropical species with no known threats and robust ecology. it grow close to the rivers  extensively cultivated, anywhere and it is uses to weave Panama hats and other products like handbags and adorns.

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