Year 6 students at Bodden Town Primary School last week displayed silver thatch accessories they had created as part of their heritage culture lesson plan, an ongoing activity for the year group.
Students also shared their artistic designs and ideas with each other to create headbands and bracelets made of silver thatch, according to Cayman Traditional Arts instructors Blonde Uzzle and Rose May Ebanks.
Students came up with the idea to create crowns, headbands, bracelets, pencil cases and key chains from the silver thatch and to add some sparkling beads, pearls, feathers, shells and glitter.
According to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands website, silver thatch gets its name from the silvery color of the leaves’ underside that is particularly prominent in the moonlight.
Chosen as the National Tree of the Cayman Islands, the silver thatch palm has played an important role in the lives of Caymanians since the first settlers arrived on the islands in the early 1700s. A valuable part of Cayman’s natural heritage, as well as part of the landscape, it is endemic to the Cayman Islands – meaning that it is found nowhere else.
Silver thatch palm leaves have traditionally been used for roofing, to make rope, and to weave hats, baskets and fans. Shoes known as wompers were made with a flat leather sole and held on the foot by straps of thatch rope.
Nowadays, silver thatch hats and baskets are in demand in tourist and craft shops. Many of them are still made by those who were taught their skills many decades ago.