Panama Hat History
In the early 16thcentury, Straw Toquilla hats now commonly known as “Panama Hats” were made in the coast of Ecuador. The hats were handwoven with the use of fibers taken from the Carludovica Palmata palm. Native people used the hats for sun protection, however, the Panama hat became very popular due to its freshness, lightness and breathability. The hat today has become an important symbol of Ecuadorian culture and its traditions.
WHY PANAMA AND NOT ECUADOR HAT?
The Straw hats became known as Panama hats when the construction of the Panama Canal began, after more than 50,000 workers hired for the construction of the canal wore the straw hats to cover themselves from the sun during the long hours of intense work. Furthermore, The use of straw hat was popularized even more when President Roosevelt wore it at the inauguration of the Canal in 1914.
The weaving of the Panama Hat is totally made by hand. Artisans start weaving the crown using only a few strands of straw and incorporate more until reaching the desire diameter. Then a wooden mold its used to start given the hat its shape until they reach the skirt, which will be the last part of the hat. Finally, the artisan proceeds to make a special interlacing of the edge of the hat, leaving at the end long strands of toquilla straw.