Archive for May 2010

Everybody Loves the Traditional Mexican Sombrero


Mexican Sombrero
Mexican Sombrero

Few people are not familiar with the cartoon caricature of the male leaning back against a huge cactus plant with a rather large sombrero covering most of his face. This is a generalization of the laid-back Mexican, but in truth not only Mexicans, where the sombrero originated, love this large hat, but people from all over find them great to wear.

Sombreros are instantly recognizable as this large disk shaped hat woven from colorful straw with many intricate designs.  What stands above all is that these hats are designed to cast a shadow that allows the wearer to comfortably walk about in strong sunlight as head, neck and shoulders are protected.

History of the Sombrero

The sombrero is probably the top traditional souvenir to bring home from a visit to Mexico, yet this hat was created for completely practical reasons. Mexico has a hot climate and although it is not known who exactly thought up the first sombrero, the creation is usually credited to the Mestizo field workers. They needed something to protect their heads while working in the fields and a very wide brimmed woven straw hat is the most practical thing to wear; literally carrying their own little umbrellas of shad with them as they moved along.

The shape of the sombrero is what makes it such a practical hat to wear with the overly large brim giving the maximum shade to the head and good part of the upper body. The cone shaped centre allows air circulation on top of the head that adds to the cooling effect as well. To this was added a chin strap, which is very necessary to keep the large saucer shaped hat from blowing away.


Sombreros are not only woven from straw, although these are the most inexpensive and can be very colorful. Different dyes are used to create patterns that are vibrant and appealing. The straw sombreros are a favorite tourist souvenir to take home. The Vaqueros from Guadalajara wear sombreros made from felt and sometimes from velvet. These are embellished with gold braid and embroidery as well as beadwork. It is said that the fancier sombreros were created by the Vaqueros to fit in with their image and with their riding outfits.

Song and Dance

Sombreros are an integral part of the Jarabe Tapatio; traditional Mexican hat dance as well as part of the overall costume of the Mariachi musicians. These musicians wear stunningly embroidered sombreros that compliment the rest of their outfits. So whether you are looking for an ordinary everyday straw sombrero or the more expensive variety, all the market places and shops in Mexico have the perfect sombrero gifts to take home.

Traditional Mexican Sombrero
Traditional Mexican Sombrero