The Canton of Wallis (in French Valais) is in the south of Switzerland, bordering Italy. It is to the west of the canton of Tessin.
To date, there is no indication of a straw industry as such in Wallis. In one or two valleys there were individual workers producing straw plait to make a regional hat known as the Trachtenhüte worn as part of the regional costume. There is no evidence that this work was for export, or for sale to other regions, the hats produced were for local use.
The Trachtenhut is a bonnet with a brim, made from whole straw plait. The plait is always sewn together by hand and hammered into shape once it has been stitched, mills are not used. The basic bonnet disappears under all the decoration of dark fabric, so that the only way to see the basic hat is to look inside.
The Swiss Society for Folk Culture (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde [SGV]) documented this work in their film The Straw Hat (Der Strohhut) made in 1970 by Yves Yersin.
A written description of the work can be found in the SGV booklet #56 Hatmaking in the Lötschental (Hutmacherinnen im Lötschental) written in 1987.
Other information indicates that, in the prison of Crétes Longues up until the end of the Second World War there was an active straw studio. During the winter months the prisoners made straw shoes and produced items of straw marquetry.
Silvie Eberle, Salins and Patrick Rudaz of Pringy in Freiburg have found references during their recent research.
Hubert Boschung, october 2001
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