You see many Thai farmers wearing the above shown hat. They are beautiful and cheap. Although they do not last forever. But they are cheap. So cheap that you will think that some machine spits them out somewhere. But no, this kind of hats are the things that are made at home in small villages in Nan province. And once you know how much work goes into making them you are surprised they are so cheap. In the village where we used to live many people are making this kind of hats. So I tried to follow the all process of making them, step by step. Wow, what a work! For more information about Nan province see Destination Travel Guide Nan. Following are photos of almost every step of making this cheap hats.
It all begins with going to the jungle and cut the right bamboo. Yes, this kind of hats are made of bamboo. It seems to be a special kind of bamboo that is used for making the hats. It will be cut in parts of about 2 meter, easy for transport. You will see it for sale along the roads. But just cutting wild bamboo is much cheaper. So that is what the villagers are doing.
|Small long pieces of bamboo|
Then the bamboo parts will be cut in parts of about 70cm long. This parts will then be cut in small long pieces.
|Splitting the bamboo|
Then the small long bamboo pieces will be split into thin layers (the green outside part is thrown away).
|Splitting the bamboo|
|Thin layers of bamboo|
With as result thin layers of bamboo of about 1mm thick, 3cm wide and 60cm long. This parts are being put in water for 1 night. Not just water, it is the water from cleaning rice (to make the bamboo more white).
|Drying the bamboo layers|
Then after soaking 1 night in the water the thin bamboo layers are put to dry outside in the sun for a few days. After the thin bamboo layers are dried they are split in smaller parts of 1cm wide.
|Braiding the bamboo|
Then 7 thin small bamboo strips are now used to braid strips of about 25mm wide. They also braid strips of 15mm wide and they are used for making souvenirs.
|Braided bamboo bundles|
With as end-result bundles of braided strips of 20 arm-lengths (for 1 hat) that are being sold to someone who has a sowing machine to make the real hat. That hat is then sold to wholesale buyers who will sell it to shops all over Thailand.