The vueltiao hat and its not-so-flattering imitation

When we travel to a distant location and want to buy a souvenir to remember our trip, we normally wish to acquire something authentic, something typical of that place. However, all too often we end up being fooled and buy trinkets that were probably made in places far away from our destination. So it’s the reality of this globalised world where cheap lower quality imports can make a lucrative business for a few.

If you have followed Colombian news lately you might have noticed a story published by the local media about the recent arrival to the country of cheap replicas of the iconic “vueltiao” hat, one of the recognisable symbols of Colombia and a popular handicraft among tourists.

It seems that, once more, local artisans are no match for the lower productions costs of industrialised manufacturing. However, in this case, it might be a good idea to give up the cheaper product and stick with the real thing. They say imitation is the best form of flattery but in this case there are a number of things that make a real vueltiao hat something special.

For starters, a true vueltiao hat is made by hand following the same methods and techniques perfected by artisans for generations. The finest vueltiao hat could take up to a month to make by hand.

Then we should consider the artisans themselves. The people who make the vueltiao hat are the proud members of the Zinu, one of the native Colombian tribes that still remain in the country. The finest vueltiao hats are made in Tuchin by the zinu people, keepers of an art that has been perfected with time and that makes the vueltiao hat one of the most famous symbols of Colombia.

So, if you visit Colombia and wish to bring a souvenir home, we recommend you consider buying a vueltiao hat. However, in the same way that you would not buy anything other than a Scottish single malt whisky when you visit Scotland, make sure you get the real deal when you buy this unique reminder of your visit to Colombia.

Vallenato and Sombrero Vueltiao

Vallenato and Sombrero Vueltiao

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3 thoughts on “The vueltiao hat and its not-so-flattering imitation

  1. This has really become an issue of popular discussion here in Colombia, and I have encountered many Colombians who are very angry about the introduction of these Chinese manufactured sombreros!

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