The toquilla straw with which hats are made is extracted of a palm whose scientific name is Carludovica Palmata, in honor ofthe Spanish kings Charles and Louise (Carolus & Ludovica in Latin).
This palm is grown in the mountainous parts of the Coast and Ecuadorian Amazon in the provinces of Manabi, Guayas, Esmeraldas and Morona Santiago. It is a trunkless palm species whose fan-shaped leaves, grow directly from the ground, each plant has leaves that reach two or three meters long. The outside of the leaves is green, the center of them is ivory white or pearl white. This part is used for hats’ manufacture.
Between 1880-1881, Ecuadorian hats were already being exported to North America, Central America and Europe. Panama was a forced route.
The top brass construction manager of the Panama Canal, was in the 1880 World’s Fair in Paris wearing a beautiful copy. Subsequently, President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, took a photo with the workers building the Panama Canal with a beautiful hat, which gave rise to the name of the hat is spread throughout the world with the name “Panama Hat” , then hisfame spread with this name to our hats manufactured in Ecuador .
Its top quality manufacture has a well gained reputation in Azuay, but the finest hats and more expensive are in Montecristi, Manabi.
The hat consists on three parts: template, top, and lap, which can be short or long. The knitting begins with the template has at its center a circular shape. To knit the template and the lap does not require any instrument, but it is essential to use the mold to shape the hat. Then they proceed to manually finish the lap of the hat. Sometimes the round off is done by other personnel for this purpose, although this is not always rule.
The craftsman takes the knitting hats from small towns to the city, where it makes the finished hat. Undergoing various processes depending on whether you want to retain their natural color, make it white through a chemical processor dyed in bright colors. When dry and rubbery passed an iron. A mechanical press gives the desired design, then put a ribbon around it orany other finish on the model, it is back to the press not to lose its shape.The fineness of the hat is measured in degrees, the higher the greater the degree fineness, of course the price is determined by quality and extent of the hat manufacture. There is a wide range of hues, among which arewhite, ivory, honey, various shades of brown, pastels and more.
The development of the Panama Hat, our Ecuatorian hat, provides great job sources for hundreds of Ecuadorian artisan families who benefit from this work … which travels to different countries.