Straw Hats from
"Master and Commander"

 
          
          
 
 



Special authentic “Orzuelo” straw sailor hats created by Baron Hats for the Universal, Miramax and Twentieth Century Fox Production
 
MASTER AND COMMANDER*

         
To create the special sailor hats for the Russell Crowe star vehicle, “Master and Commander”, Mark Mejia, master hat maker and owner of Baron Hats was given one of his most challenging assignments. The filmmakers of the motion picture, especially its famed legendary director Peter Weir, demanded complete and total accuracy, down to the smallest detail. 

Weir wanted to make sure that all the hats (most of which BCH made for the movie) were exactly like the ones worn during the period, but he especially wanted the very unusual straw hats worn by the sailors to be completely authentic. In fact, he wanted, if possible, for them to actually be made by the decedents of the original hat makers! 

It was up to Mark Mejia, who is renowned throughout Hollywood for his incredible research and accuracy, to try and find craftsmen to create these specialized hats, hopefully, craftsmen who were still making them! Unfortunately, the initial research seemed to 
indicate that there were no craftsmen alive who still had the skill to make these water-tight rugged hats. However Mark would not give up. The first “miracle” came when he was able to find original “blocks” used to weave and shape the hats specifically for English sailors. He was unable to keep these priceless historical blocks, so he made exact replicas of them. He could have made the hats himself, but still, he would not give up looking to see if indeed any craftsmen still existed that had the skill of this “extinct” hat-weaving art. 

Though he could make beautifully “accurate” replicas himself with his blocks, Mark would not actually have the technique of “Japanning” of the actual hats. “Japanning” is an ancient complex process used for aging weaved hats down so they would propel water and sweat and the sun and elements, and last seemingly forever. The second “miracle” came when, on a hunch, and continuing to dive through his hat research files (one of the largest hat research library’s around), Mark found a reference to a small South American town where hat craftsmen may still have existed. Mark went to the man, who for years seems to be able to pull rabbits out of non-existent hats. Whenever he needs to find an obscure fabric, or hat, or factory or forgotten village craftsmen who make special weaves unheard of in centuries, he goes to Rodolfo Gomez Hernandez, who runs a very successful travel agency in Querétaro, Oro.  In the past Rodolfo had been a lifesaver when Mark needed to get into some of the most remote areas of South America… regions that even the CIA would have second thoughts about! However, with Rodolfo’s assistance, Mark was able to get permission to visit this tiny town. The film company immediately flew Mark and Rodolfo to this remote village to see if they could find these craftsmen and supervise them and convince them to make hats for the movie. 

The town was called Tlepehuala in Guerrerro located to the northeast of Chilpancingo, in what is known as the “Hot Earth” region. It was a "hot bed" of great leads since many of the elusive craftsmen they were looking for once lived there. After several weeks of searching with his trusty Rodolfo  through this region, countless discussions with the locals who knew of the hats, and the craftsmen, led them into the state of Hidalgo, and into the famous market place, where artisans, farmers and craftsmen come in from high up in the remote hill villages to sell their wares. It was there that Mark finally found his group of weavers.  Many had indeed come from Tlepehuala where he had started his journey, and others, the "special ones"  considered the "elder masters", came from the tiny mountain providence of Ixmiquilpan. They were perhaps the only  craftsmen still in existence anywhere in the world, that still made this specific weave from hand woven and hand stitched braided special local straw. They called the hats “orzuelo”, and after Mark carefully inspected these local hats, he discovered that there was no difference between these magnificent hats, and the ones worn by the sailors two hundred years ago! Mark had found his treasure! 

The hat makers of Tlepehuala and the elder masters of Ixmiquilpan are like all those born in those regions… they are fierce and strong and loyal. They have a long history of independence, defending themselves from invaders and monarchs (especially from Spain). Because of this, it’s not easy for “strangers” to be trusted. It was not easy to talk to them about making hats for Hollywood! But Mark was able to win them over, and not only did they make all the hats for the movie under Mark's supervision, but also agreed to make hats for special orders, exclusively for Baron Hats. 

Now you too can own these amazing hats, thought lost forever. These are the exact hats worn by the sailors in “M
aster and Commander”.  They all come with a Certificate of Authenticity from Baron Hats.

The hat makers of Tlepehuala and Ixmiquilpan still make the six styles that were desired by the English sailors of the 17th through the 19th Century. Each one has a slightly different weave and shape.  All these hats are water proof, and incredibly resilient and are made with the ancient “Japanning” process. Of course, since they are all hand made they all will be slightly different from those pictured.


SPECIAL NOTE: Because these hats are hand woven to order, please allow at least eight to twelve weeks for delivery.

 

“Trabajador del diamante”

Hand stitched and hand woven in diamond weave from local straws with a rounded medium high even cylindrical crown. 

Known as the 
“Worker” Hat.  
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Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

“Tesoro Del Diamante”

  

Hand stitched and hand woven with diamond weave from local straws with high conical-shaped crown and shorter brim. 

These were worn more by the supervisors in the fields. 

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Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

“Hombre en Carga”
 

Hand stitched and hand woven in “flat” weave from local palm. These have a large brim, and “clásico” style crown with a “chichi dimple” on top. This style is reminiscent of the style that the rich land owners would wear when they went into the fields to speak with their workers. 
 

Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

“Noche De La Fiesta”
 

Hand woven in “flat weave”, and machine stitched from local straw, this classically rotund-shaped hat was usually worn during fiestas, especially celebrating the end of harvest, or a hard work load. 

This hat is machine stitched to create a perfectly even shape.
 

Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

 

"Secreto Ocultado"


Hand stitched and hand woven in diamond stitch from local straw, this unusually shaped hat, with a super low crown is known as the “hidden secret”. Many locals who wanted to stay “unnoticed” believed that by wearing this hat, they would be “invisible” to “the unsavory horde that seek them out”. 
A wonderful hat!  
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Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

 

"Alma Rugosa"
 

Hand stitched and hand woven in a special “rugged diamond” stitch from local straw. This high crown masterpiece uses a signature stitch found nowhere else. The “coarse-rugged” diamond stitch is very difficult to create, and is used both for dramatic effect and durability. 

This was the hat of a fighter, a loner, a hero… a man who stood alone against anyone or anything for his beliefs. Called in English the “rugged soul”… this hat lives up to its name tenfold!

Not Available at this time.
Please Email Us for Availability

 

Mark Mejia would like to take this opportunity to say a very, very special thanks to his dear friend and “life saver” Rodolfo Gomez Hernandez, who has helped him on so many motion picture productions "finding the impossible" in South American Countries. 
 If you ever need the services of the greatest travel agent for exotic, unusual, or just plan spectacular adventures in South America, please contact Rodolfo at his website.

 

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