Participant Portfolios / Andean Highlands

Alba Herminda Beltrán

Cook, hat maker, Gachantivá

Alba Betrán uses the palmiche palm, which grows in the Andean Highlands, to make tapia pisada hats in a style that dates back to colonial times. She also uses the tapia pisada technique of braided palmiche woven with fique strands to make placemats, bags, and coasters. In her kitchen, she prepares the traditional highland wheat arepa. In her farm, Alba grows blackberries and tomate de árbol (tree tomatoes) to help support her family.

"My mother learned from my grandmother, and, among her daughters, I was the one who continued with the hat-making tradition."

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Alba Herminda Beltrán
Alba Herminda Beltrán

Alba Herminda Beltrán demonstrates braiding the clineja, or palmiche strip, used for making a hat in the tapia pisada style, which she wears and holds on her lap.
Photo courtesy of Embassy of Colombia in Washington, D.C.