The import of 944,081 imitation ‘vueltiao’ hats from China is jeopardizing the economy of the Zenú people of Córdoba, the manufacturers of the traditional hats.
The National Government plans to take immediate action to protect the industry, with the cooperation of Dian (the national tax and customs authority), and will not only ban imitations but also meet with the Zenú community next week to assess the situation.
One of the Chinese companies that makes the imitation hats is the Cangnan Fanlin Arts & Gifts Co. Ltda, but in China there are hundreds of factories that copy accessories from all over the world. For decades, the Chinese have made imitation cowboy hats as well as copied and commercialized hats from other countries in South and Central America. For the Chinese, therefore, the controversy sparked in Colombia by the most recent knockoff is practically meaningless given that Colombia is just another destination among many for their products.
Artesanías de Colombia, a branch of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce, is urging people, especially merchants and consumers, to value the items born from the originality, creativity and ability of hundreds of Colombians whose livelihood depends on the manufacture of products like the ‘vueltiao’ hat.
This particular hat was born in the savannahs of Córdoba and Sucre and is considered a national symbol. While it’s unknown exactly when the first one was made, they have undergone constant evolution. At the beginning they were plain cream-colored hats and the black designs all around it came along later.
The hats are currently made with cañaflecha in black and khaki. While it used to be an activity exclusive to men, women now do it as well and the use of machines is permitted.