UNESCO (The UN Organization for Education, Science and Culture) has named the procedures and techniques for making the “sombrero pintao” in Panama as an intangible heritage of humanity, pushing aside the “Panama hat that originated in Ecuador.
The Ecuadorean headwear got its name because Panama was the main shipping point to China and around the world. It got a big fillip when US President Teddy Roosevelt visited the Canal construction in 1904 and was photographed sporting a “Panama “ hat.
Unesco sets the record straight on its website: “The vegetal fibres to prepare the talcs, pints and cringes of the pintao hat are obtained by means of manual procedures using five classes of plants and mud”. Hatsmithing procedures and techniques are handed down from generation to generation and braiding contests are organized to encourage hatters to perfect their art, adds the agency.
The international organization, meeting in South Korea, valued the work of the more than 400 Panamanian artisans who perform the trade. “They grow the plants, they work the raw materials, they braid the fibers and they make with them this type of hat that is part of the clothing of all the regions of the country in the folkloric dances and the community celebrations”.
It adds that the practice of hat making promotes social solidarity and encourages the creation of cooperatives and groups of hatters and growers.
Unesco also highlights the creation of the Sombrero Pintao Museum in the district of La Pintada, in the province of Coclé, which shows the life and techniques of the artisans, as well as the celebration, on October 9 of each year, of the Civic Day and Commemoration of the Sombrero Pintao and the General Direction of National Crafts organizes, in turn, fairs and craft markets to promote the product.