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Sombrero (Spanish for "Hat") in English refers to a type of wide-brimmed hat in Mexico, though was first made as a bowl to hold food, was later used as a hat to shield from the sun. It usually has a high pointed crown, an extra-wide brim (broad enough to cast a shadow over the head, neck and shoulders of the wearer, and slightly upturned at the edge), and a chin string to hold it in place. Cowboys generalized the word to mean just about any wide broad-brimmed hat.
Sombreros, like the cowboy hats invented later, were designed in response to the demands of the physical environment. The concept of a broad-brimmed hat worn by a rider on horseback can be seen as far back as the Mongolian horsemen of the 13th century. In hot, sunny climates hats evolved to have wide brims, which provided shade. The Spanish developed a flat-topped sombrero, which they brought to Mexico. It was modified by the vaquero into the round-crowned Mexican sombrero and poblano.
Many early Texan cowboys adopted the Spanish sombrero with its flat crown and wide, flat brim. Also called the poblano, these hats came from Spain.
The Mexican variation of the sombrero added an even wider brim and a high, conical crown. These are the hats worn by mariachi musicians and charros. They are too large, heavy, and unwieldy for ranch work. Both types of sombreros usually include a barboquejo or chin strap.
In the Western United States, the sombrero had a high conical or cylindrical crown with a saucer-shaped brim, highly embroidered and made of plush felt.
Sombreros are also present in Philippine history, due to the Mexican influence brought about by the Manila galleon trade. The term has been assimilated into the Tagalog language in the form of sumbrero and now refers to any hat – from actual sombreros to baseball caps.
The galaxy Messier 104 is known as the Sombrero Galaxy due to its appearance.
A sombrero plays a central (though unexplained) role in Richard Brautigan's book Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel (1976).
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