The Varieties of the Balloon Hat Experience

You wouldn’t think that making balloon hats could evolve into a spiritual path. Unless you happened to stumble across a website called “The Varieties of the Balloon Hat Experience.” As the authors explain:

In 1996, Addi Somekh and Charlie Eckert began traveling to different places in the world to make balloon hats for people and take photos of them. The goal was to show people all over the world laughing and having fun, and to emphasize the fact that all human beings are born with the ability to experience joy. In total, they visited 34 countries and have over 10,000 pictures.

I am amazed at what a rich, luscious, thoughtful, inspiring, and profoundly gift this Balloon Hat Experience proves to be: the amazing gallery of Balloon Hatting around the world, the gallery of Threes – depicting stories of love and balloon-hatted glory in series of three images.

I found this on their What is Laughing page.

“In the Navajo tradition we have what we call Chi Dlo Dil, or a Laughing Party, for a newborn. The Laughing Party is the first laugh you hear from a child. It’s usually around six weeks. It’s the baby’s first expression to the world, saying ‘I’m ready to interact.’

…At the party everybody sits around the baby and has a big meal and plays with the baby. The person who makes the baby laugh first plays an important role in the child’s life.”

Nancy Evans, Shiprock, NM (Navajo Nation)

And this piece of poetic anthropology about the meaning of hats from Mary Holmes is Professor Emerita of Art at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The head has always been a battlefield. We think of ourselves as livingin our head. Our most important acts aren’t performed by our hands or our legs. We think and speak with our head. So the head becomes sacred. It has meaning. Which is why there came to be so much meaning attached to hair and headdresses, to what they look like. And it has enough meaning that it¹s worth fighting about …I have great faith that hats will come back, because they have been important to humans for millennia. And the balloon hats give people, at least momentarily, a return of that experience of dressing the head. I think that’s why it evokes that bubbly, giggly, happy response. People feel that at last they have the recognition they deserve.

I give you a Major FUN Award, o Balloon Hatters of the heart.

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