A straw hat is a brimmed hat that is woven out of straw or straw-like materials from different plants or synthetics. The hat is designed to protect the head from the sun and against heatstroke, but straw hats are also used in fashion as a decorative element or a uniform.
Commonly used fibers are:
- Wheat straw: (Milan straw, Tuscan, Leghorn),
- Rye straw: used for the traditional bryl straw hats popular among the peasants of Belarus, southwestern Russia and Ukraine.
- Toquilla straw: flexible and durable fiber, which is often made into hats in Ecuador, but popularly known as Panama hats.
- Buntal/ Parabuntal straw: from unopened Palm leaves or stems of the Buri Palm,
- Baku straw: 1x1 woven, made from the young stalks of the Talipot palm from Malabar and Ceylon,
- Braided hemp,
- Shantung straw: made from high performance paper which is rolled into a yarn to imitate straw, historically it was made of buntal[self-published source]
- Toyo straw: cellophane coated Washi,
- Bangora straw: made from a lower grade of Washi,
- Paperbraids: made from different paper strands from Viscose from different Plants (Swiss Paglinastraw), (Silkpaper, Rice paper),
- Sisal/ Parasisal (2x2 woven sisal),
- Seagrass (Xian),
- Visca straw: an artificial straw made by spinning viscose in a flat filament capable of being braided, woven, or knitted and used especially for women's hats,
- Rush straw: a thick, stiff straw, used to manufacture inexpensive casual sun hats, made from rush grass (Juncus effesus, Juncus polycephalus), from the bulrushtypes sedge grass (Schoenoplectus lacustris, Cyperus papyrus, Typha (Typha domingensis, syn. Thypha angustata) (bulrush or cattail)} and other types seashore rushgrass (Sporobolus virginicus) or reed[self-published source]
- Abacá: (for Sinamay hats)
- Artificial, synthetic straw, PP straw: made from Polypropylene, Polyethylene or from different blends from Acrylic, PP, PE, Polyester, Ramie and Paper
- other straw fibers that are mostly used in Asian conical hats are made from different palms (Corypha, Rattan, Trachycarpus, Phoenix), grasses Cane, Bamboo and rice straw (Kasa (hat))
- Chip straw: from White pine, Lombardy poplar, or English willow, has historically been used, but has become less common.
There are several styles of straw hats, but all of them are woven using some form of plant fibre. Many of these hats are formed in a similar way to felt hats; they are softened by steam or by submersion in hot water, and then formed by hand or over a hat block. Finer and more expensive straw hats have a tighter and more consistent weave. Since it takes much more time to weave a larger hat than a smaller one, larger hats are more expensive.
Straw hats have been worn in Europe and Asia since after the Middle Ages during the summer months, and have changed little between the medieval times and today. Many are to be seen in the famous calendar miniatures of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, worn by all classes,but mostly by men.
President Theodore Roosevelt helped popularize the straw Panama hat during his visit to the Panama Canal. Roosevelt used his natural ability to drum up publicity by posing for a series of photos at the Panama Canal construction site in 1906. Photos of his visit showed a strong, rugged leader dressed crisply in light-colored suits and stylish straw fedoras.
Types of straw hatsEdit
A child wearing a straw hat. Seen here in a 1928 professional image taken in South Shields, England
Artwork produced during the Middle Ages shows, among the more fashionably dressed, possibly the most spectacular straw hats ever seen on men in the West, notably those worn in the Arnolfini Portrait of 1434 by Jan van Eyck (tall, stained black) and by Saint George in a painting by Pisanello of around the same date (left). In the middle of the 18th century, it was fashionable for rich ladies to dress as country girls with a low crowned and wide brimmed straw hat to complete the look.
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