A Tuesday Tidbit: Behind the Bombin

by Karen on Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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I love exploring the mutations and adaptations that result when two cultures meet.  I especially love exploring this in food, but it manifests in other areas as well.  Take the bombin, the style of hat worn by women in Peru and Bolivia.  And if you’re thinking it looks distinctly British, you’re right.  It’s what some refer to as a bowler hat which was invented in London around the 1850s.

So how did this hat make its way across the Atlantic to South America from London?  Quechua and Aymara women started wearing these hats in the 1920s when British railway workers were working in Bolivia.  Why local women started wearing this hat is largely unknown and shrouded in myth.  One myth is that an enterprising business man had overstock of bowler hats and tried selling them off to women claiming the hat helped to increase fertility.

However the bombin rose to popularity, it was certainly embraced by the women in Peru and Bolivia.  They paired it with their bright colorful skirts and shawls, making it uniquely part of their beautiful dress and culture.  And personally, I just love the femininity of their bright skirts juxtaposed with such a masculine looking hat.  Now that’s what I call fashion!

(Image from here)


Valerie November 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Fascinating! Let’s start a trend!!

tasteofbeirut November 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I agree; it gives them a unique and unforgettable look~

Honestly...WTF November 30, 2010 at 12:51 am

I honestly love this! Thnx for sharing!!

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