Carnaval Tailored Hats
Argentinian fashion brand Micoya is on a mission to connect new generations with their roots, sharing the beauty of cultural heritage one hat at a time. Sublime delves into the story behind their iconic llama hats and the Andean tradition behind them
Chayar: to spray or sprinkle the ground with liquor in honour of Pachamama, Mother Earth. In Quebrada de Humahuaca – a valley in the Jujuy region of Argentina – the chaya is used to seek protection, ask the earth for a plentiful harvest and show gratitude for what has been achieved with hard work and sacrifice. This ritual takes place 40 days before Easter, fusing celebrations that the Spanish Inquisition brought to America and the deeply-rooted traditions – which were not colonised – from the Native Communities. This is Carnaval from Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Fashion label Micoya is working with Ariel Cortez, a Jujuy artist, to design a capsule collection exclusively for Sublime magazine, sharing the joy of Carnaval with the world.
Felt hats are worn during the chaya ceremony, and the collaboration has created a collection of exclusive, hand-painted hats that showcase Micoya’s appreciation for cultural heritage. But to fully understand the significance of these hand-painted wonders, we must start at the beginning.
The unburial rite
Carnaval begins on a Saturday with the unburial rite of the ‘devil’, the icon of the ritual, represented by a cloth puppet that was buried under a pile of stones (apacheta) on the previous year’s Carnaval. There is a belief that our repressed desires are released during the unburial rite, accompanied by dancing and music played by typical instruments of the local folklore – sikuris, trumpets, panpipes, and drums – and by comparsas, groups of people who come together to celebrate with their rhythm, flags, colourful costumes, bells, and ornate masks.
During the ritual, talcum powder, flour and spray foam is thrown on participants. Aromatic basil branches are placed in their ears and bell-shaped felt hats on their heads and, once the ‘devil’ is unburied, the streets of Quebrada de Humahuaca become alive with music and dance.
The bell-shaped felt hats
Llama wool – a natural and renewable fibre – is traditionally used to create the hats. The manufacturing process calls for an age-old technique of conglomerating several layers into a non-woven textile line and using steam and pressure to mould it into the unique bell shape. A symbol of Andean culture, the hats protect from the volatile climate of northern Argentina – the cold, the sun, the rain – as well as hiding the faces of the wearer as they work.
Eight days later, ‘temptation Sunday’ marks the end of Carnaval and leads up to one of its most important moments: gifts like cigarettes, alcohol, and coca leaves for chewing (coca leaves have been chewed in region for centuries, believed to hold medicinal properties that alleviate the likes of altitude sickness and fatigue) are offered. And with thunder bombs, Carnaval is over.
Such festivals of joy are perfect examples of the combination of the orthodoxy of Catholicism with the magic of local beliefs. That joy grows year by year, and the respect and offerings to Pachama come from farther and farther outside Quebrada de Humahuaca. Positive energy permeates Carnaval – participants are treated as equals and day-to-day pressures vanish within music, dance, drink and the sweet scent of basil. The Jujuy landscape is marked by sacrifice and the inner journey of each soul crossing its lands, the celebrations taking on the meaning of a blessing – this what Micoya’s collection channels.
Pre-order the Llama Felt Carnaval Hat £65 each SUBLIME SHOP
Watch the Micoya video below.