I’m not sure where I have my mental picture of a revolutionary soldier with musket from say 100+ years ago, but I seem to recall it having one of these snazzy hats/helmets. On our recent trip up North, I spotted these highly lacquered or varnished dried upo (bottle gourd) helmets for sale at one of the handicraft/pseudo-antique shops in Vigan. Aren’t they cool? How an upo which has such a soft, watery flesh can turn into such a firm material has always fascinated me (in the same way that patola turns into a loofah when dried). Frankly, I can’t imagine that this helmet can provide any serious resistance against a bullet, but it does keep the heat of the sun and the rain away… This reminds me of another prized antique artifact I have from the wilds of Irian Jaya, my antique carved ceremonial “koteka.” Look it up if you are curious what it is… :) A few days later, at a local market, I took this photograph of the fresh upo that is raw material for the hat… does anyone know why these aren’t elongated? Is it because they grow it on the ground and not hanging from a trellis?