In Colombia, the most famous hand crafted product is, undoubtedly, the sombrero vueltiao, the hat that has become a symbol of the country. The use of caña flecha, a native palm that also protects the edges of marshes, originated as a method for Indians and peasants to protect themselves from the sun and high temperatures. The locals then processed the green leaves of the plant to extract the fibers with are then dyed by fruits, vegetables, and plants. Once the raw material is dried, the artisans use a technique of braiding the palm that has been passed down from generation to generation. The braids are sometimes also sewn using a foot driven sewing machine to create the myriad of products. Check out this video for more production details if you are interested. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97NW1Xai1pw
In the Zenú indigenous culture, women courted men by giving them their first vueltiao hat as a gift. I was introduced to it by a woman who worked at CASA MARTA, the home I stayed at in Cartagena. She showed me a basic weave as we sat on the patio. She said her whole family weaves Cana Flecha and has for generations.