Some Peruvian hats appear to serve little function. However, they often tell other locals where the hat wearer is from and their family heritage. The red felt hat is called a montera and can be filled with flowers, fruit and other adornments. These are worn by Quechua women throughout the Sacred Valley. When worn at such an angle, it may also tell others she is a widow.
Hats in the Bustling Marketplace
What initially appealed to me about wandering the marketplace we were driving by in our taxi is that it is put on by locals, for locals. No tourists are expected or needed. During our walk through this marketplace, not a single other tourist was seen. So we likely stuck out like a beacon. Some vendors seemed equally interested in us as we were in them, but mostly we were just ignored by the busy shoppers. Market day is also a social event. Whatever food products the women were selling they seemed to be casually eating while waiting for their next customer, dipping their hand into the bag and munching away.
With so many different hat styles, it is apparent that the choice of hat is not taken lightly.
While the above hats do not seem to be true ‘bowler’ hats, bowlers are very popular with Peruvian women. The story of the popularity of bowlers begins with their invention in England in about 1850. One English company wanted to supply the railroad workers of Bolivia and Peru with bowler hats. However, upon their delivery it was discovered the hats were much too small for the working men. Instead of throwing them away, they were sold to the women after convincing them it was a European fashion statement to wear such small hats. The bowlers popularity began.
With no guide to explain the various hats, I’m left to research the Internet and the travel blogs of others. Tall white hats made of thatch are said to suggest a person is of mixed Inca and Spanish heritage.
Traditionally, brown or green hats made from sheep’s wool indicate a women of Andean heritage. The woven cloth on the lady’s back is called an lliklla. It is used as a backpack for goods as well as children.
Brown felt hats of slightly different styles.
The market was quite large and grouped by product. Fruits were in one section, vegetables and clothing in another.
This style of hat was not seen in the marketplace, but rather in Cusco where I think they were worn more for the benefit of the tourists than as a standard hat. Every Internet article I found about these hats simply said they were traditional.
This Little Lamb went to Market
When driving off from the market in our taxi, I was surprised to see several sheep in the back of a sedan. I quickly asked Jaime to stop so I could take a photo of these sheep in the back of a Toyota. Much horn honking ensued, but Jaime persisted so I could take some blurry photos. While I do not know what happened to these sheep, they may not have enjoyed market day as much as I did.
Trying to Find Unique Photos when Traveling
This photo of the sheep in the car also serves to show why a local person who has not done a lot of traveling cannot direct a photographer like me to great photographic sights. Jaime likely has seen this sight most weekends all his life and it does not appear out of the ordinary to him. He would also never think to take me to the market, which he has seen every weekend as long as he can remember. He does not know how different it is from a Walmart or a Safeway store. That which appears so unique to the US traveler is often very commonplace to the locals. If you want some strange looks, take a picture of a common Peruvian door. The locals walking by had no idea what the heck I was doing.
The doors simply seemed unique and beautiful to me.
Next BLOG stop is Easter Island.