Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hats around the World

After traveling for a while, I realized that most places I visited had their own particular style of traditional and popular hats and head-coverings.  We all know that traditional dress is not something new; rather, it has roots in the history of each distinct culture.  Even hundreds of years ago, people were painted with halos around their heads.  Sure, that's not exactly a hat, but I still consider it a sort of head decoration.  Over time, traditional dress associated with particular locations changes.  As a believer that your accessories can make or break your outfit, and a victim of frizzy hair, I chose to focus on hats as the piece with which you can define a look.

Zaidy in his Chicago hat at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
My grandpa collects hats from each of his trips.  While I would be more likely to collect culturally traditional hats, he prefers to collect baseball caps, and has one from each place he has visited.  Over the years, his collection has become rather impressive.  In this photo, he's at Angkor Wat in Cambodia wearing a Chicago hat (left). every sense of the word.
This is one of my favorites!

Without a doubt, my favorite hat, which is really more of a head-decoration, is the fascinator (right), popular among extreme socialites and royalty in the UK.  I took this photo at El Corte Inglés in Madrid, but the UK would be the appropriate place to wear this.  Hopefully someday I will have an excuse to wear one of these.

Vietnamese Rice-Picking Hat.  Lovin' it!

Another hat I love is the traditional Vietnamese rice-picking hat (left).  Last summer, I was positively ecstatic to find one of these bamboo delights in my cabin one night aboard the RV Tonle Pandaw.  The best part about this hat is that lots of people around Vietnam actually wear these daily.  The shape of the hat blocks the sun from your face, neck, and shoulders, which is fantastic when you're outside all day in the sweltering humidity of Southeast Asia.  Some people also attach scarves to the hat to shield their mouth and nose from the gritty pollution in the air.
Merchants wearing Vietnamese rice-picking hats at the farmers' market in Sa Dec, Vietnam

Sporting a Viking hat in Flåm, Norway
My third favorite travel hat is one from Norway that I found in Flåm during a stop on the Norway in a Nutshell tour (left).  To be clear, I must remark that people in Norway, at least from what I observed, definitely do not wear hats like this.  Actually, this hat, with its golden braids, is a reference to Norway's marine history and their Vikings.  I'm not sure if the Vikings actually wore anything that looked like this or if they had blond braids, but I couldn't resist trying on this gem.

Poland knows how to make warm hats.

While weekend-ing in Poland and exploring the shops in Krakow, I happened upon a toasty-looking faux fur hat with ear flaps (right).  My head was cold so I decided to try it on.  In the end, I didn't buy this hat, but I had a lovely chat with the woman who owned the store about my visit to Krakow, and I purchased an infinity scarf.

Me and Mom outside of Notre Dame - Paris
On yet another trip, this time to Paris, I went traveling with Mom, and together, we decided to purchase a couple of chic hats in a shop outside of Notre Dame (left).  What baffles me most is that even though I have been to Notre Dame twice, I have never managed to find the lock wall that is apparently right behind it.  Locking a lock to the wall and tossing the key into the river is supposed to be a sign of ever-lasting love (or river pollution), and there's a similar wall in Prague.

Jerusalem, Israel
A religious head covering (definitely not a hat at all) I have seen many times around the United States caught my eye on a trip to Israel: the kippah (right).  No, I'm not calling this a hat for accessorizing.  I'm well aware that's not what this is.  However, it is a head covering, so I have chosen to include it here.  Typically, these are worn by some Jewish men for the purpose of showing respect to God.  These days, kippot come in many colors, sizes, can even get the symbol of your favorite sports team on them.  Or you can opt for a plain one and keep it simple.

Women at the Argan Oil Women's Cooperative - Morocco
Another head covering, which is not at all a hat, that I happened upon was the hijab in Morocco.
While touring, I was interested to note that some women showed their entire face, while others only displayed their eyes.  Looking around at all covered heads, I couldn't decide if I felt this promoted an air of mystery about the person inside or if it made me focus less on the person and lose the sense that an individual was in there.  Some of each, I suppose.  I've also heard that women can get a hijab decorated for special occasions.  Interestingly, some men in Morocco also cover their heads.  I saw many men wearing a garment called a djellaba, which is basically a pointy hood attached to long cloaks.

A woman working at the Argan Oil Women's Cooperative and wearing a head-covering near Marrakech.
Cambodian dance head piece.
Cambodian dance head piece.
While traveling in Siem ReapCambodia last summer, I saw two traditional Cambodian dance concerts.  In the choreography, the dancers move very slowly and smoothly, and give extreme attention to detailed wrist, finger, and ankle movements.  The only thing more detailed than the very specifically splayed finger position is the head piece perched on the dancer's head.  Technically, this piece isn't a hat either; rather, it's a decoration for the head worn while dancing.  As I enjoyed the dances, I found myself wondering how heavy these head pieces are and how you can securely attach them to your head so they don't fall off on stage.  I'm still wondering.

Best hat ever.
To draw this post to an end, I've decided to leave what may be considered the two best hats for last.  The first (left) is a hat I've often seen traveling around Spain: Ray's hat.  I'm not sure if this hat is associated with any particular city, or where he bought it, but seeing this stylish hat poised on his suitcase brings back wonderful memories of day and weekend trips around Spain with BU in Madrid.

The Crown Jewels
The other best hat is actually a crown.  The crown jewels of the Crown of the UK need neither an introduction nor an explanation of why they are so fabulous.  Since visitors at the Tower of London stand on a conveyor belt to view the crown jewels, it is nearly impossible to get a clear photo in the dark room.  For this reason, I took a picture of a book in the gift shop (right).  While getting carted along on the conveyor belt, I had a bit of a tough time reminding myself that all the stones on the displayed crowns were actually real because they were so big and there were so many of them.

Well, there you have it.  That's my list of fabulous and memorable hats and head-coverings from around the globe.  Some are accessories, some are religious, some have historical or cultural roots, and others just sparkle a lot.  I look forward to trying on more hats on exciting, upcoming trips!
Wearing a hat from the 57th Street Art Fair in Chicago at Buckingham Palace in London.  
Still trying to pull off this look - Madrid 2011 at El Corté Ingles

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