In our country, men in the countryside use a type of hat commonly known as the "sombrero pintao" , or painted hat. They are usually made using natural fibers from plants such as rush, a type of reed, bellota, a type of miniature palm frond or pita, similar in appearance to the aloe vera plant, which are suitable for our climate. The dark color for the stripes is obtained from the chisná plant, whose leaves are boiled along with the fibers to be dyed. This whole process is carried out by hand, using techniques passed down from generation to generation.
The quality of these hats is defined by the number of times the fiber had to go around to make the hat, so the simplest hats have 15 or less rounds and very fine hats with 16 to 24 rounds, which are much more expensive. For example, a painted hat with 16 rounds can cost from about 150 to 500 dollars.
In the rural countryside other types of hats are made using different materials, such as the white hat in the central provinces, the reed or cream colored hat in Veraguas, Los Santos and Coclé and the hat from the spinning palm, in northern Santa Fe de Veraguas.
The hats are divided according to how they are colored, or painted. The Mosquito style has many black spots on the braids. The Blanco, also known as the "ñopito" hat is totally white, and according to the taste of the buyer, may have a small black coloring on one side of the crown. The Junco is very durable, named so because it is made naturally with rush fiber. The Pintao is one of the most popular, named not because it is made in the town of La Pintada, but because it is decorated with a combination of white and black colors.
The hat known as Pepita de Guate is woven by inserting the black bellota fiber in between the white bellota strands.
The Talco style is similar to the "pintao," but the difference is that the former has a double row of black decorative fibers instead of one. The so-called Tumba Hombre, perhaps referring to the swirling women's skirt that dizzied men, has a combination of round black spots on the base, crown and brim.
In addition to these, there are other types of hats, such as the Reatilla, Talco Plumilla and Talco Encontrado.
These hats have managed to become an important part of typical dress for male Panamanians. Our women also use them, for example when wearing the common dress of the pollera Montuna, as well as when they get dressed up to attend the cantaderas, festive singing and performing parades.
There are no protocol parameters for its use, as it can be used both as a garment for a gala occasion, and also for daily use, without disrupting the custom or folk pattern for use of the traditional hat.
The way to wear the hat and fold its brims reveals a cultural expression, as well as the mood of its user, according to the following peculiarities:
1. Fold the front and back brims of the hat: a characteristic made famous as the Pedra style of wearing the hat, which attributes the wearer to being a successful person at a stage of splendor and pleasure in his life, and also synomynous with masculine charm and fighting skills.
2. Fold only the back brim of the hat: its wearer is considered an intellectual person with vast knowledge in a certain area of science or knowledge.
3. Fold only the front brim of the hat: indicates that he who wears this style is a ladies' man, ready to conquer a woman.
3. No fold on the hat brim: no particular interpretation is ascribed to this style, which is used during outdoor work to protect from sunlight.
4. No fold, with the front part of the hat tilted forward: the person wearing it is feeling low, dismayed, distressed, and is very commonly used by those in grieving.