A World Famous Ecuadorian Handcraft

Panama Hats

The toquilla Straw hat, better known as “Panama Hat”, has its origins in the Ecuadorian counties of Montecristi and Jipijapa, both located in the Manabi province. No one knows exactly how long these hats have been woven in Ecuador, but it was certainly some centuries before the Spanish Conquest. The chroniclers of those times narrate that natives wore over their heads a hand split, strange attire similar to vampires’ wings, made from the fibers of a plant that grew wild in a sector of the Ecuadorian coastal region.

There is much more information you might ignore about the Panama hats, so we’ve made a quick list of the 5 most relevant facts about them:

1. Its original name is “Toquilla Straw Hat”, named after the palm tree straws they are made from.

2. The “Panama Hat” trade name was created in the mid-1800s by American gold miners who stumbled upon these hats in the Panama markets. Once in the United Estates, the hat quickly became fashionable, and from that day on, it has been misleadingly known as “Panama hat”.

3. The botanical name of the palm tree used to produce the Panama hat was created in Europe, at the end of the 18th century. Botanist called the palm “carludovica palmata” (from the Latin roots carolus: Carlos; and luduvica: Luisa) in honor to the king Carlos IV and the queen Luisa, who wore the hat as several renowned members of the European royalty did.

4. The hat reached its popularity during the 18th and 19th century, when it was used by renowned people like Napoleon III and Edward VII. Nowadays the hat is still used by Hollywood starts like Jeff Goldblum and Peter Falk, as well as by some members of the royalty.

5. The Panama hat is catalogued as one of the world’s three finest hats.

In Ecuador, this hat has an average cost of $25 to $50, but can fetch more than five times this price depending on the style and the quality. Whether you buy it in Ecuador or internationally, a toquilla Straw Hat represents a stylish accessory that can be worn all year long, in any climate.