An Ecuadorian hat
|Place of origin||Ecuador|
A Panama hat, also known as an Ecuadorian hat or a toquilla straw hat, is a traditional brimmed straw hat of Ecuadorian origin. Traditionally, hats were made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovica palmata plant, known locally as the toquilla palm or jipijapa palm,although it is a palm-like plant rather than a true palm.
Ecuadorian hats are light-colored, lightweight, and breathable, and often worn as accessories to summer-weight suits, such as those made of linen or silk. The tightness, the finesse of the weave, and the time spent in weaving a complete hat out of the toquilla straw characterize its quality. Beginning around the turn of the 20th century, these hats became popular as tropical and seaside accessories owing to their ease of wear and breathability.
The art of weaving the traditional Ecuadorian toquilla hat was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists on 5 December 2012.
Beginning in the early to mid-1600s, hat weaving evolved as a cottage industry along the Ecuadorian coast as well as in small towns throughout the Andean mountain range. Hat weaving and wearing grew steadily in Ecuador through the 17th and 18th centuries.
In 1835, Manuel Alfaro arrived in Montecristi to make his name and fortune in Panama hats. He set up a Panama hat business with his main objective being exportation. Cargo ships from Guayaquil and Manta were filled with his merchandise and headed to the Gulf of Panama. His business prospered as more and more Gold Rush prospectors arrived and passed through Panama needing a hat for the sun.
One of the first towns to start weaving the hats in the Andes is Principal, part of the Chordeleg Canton in the Azuay province. Straw hats woven in Ecuador, like many other 19th and early 20th century South American goods, were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe, subsequently acquiring a name that reflected their point of international sale—"panama hats"—rather than their place of domestic origin.
The term was being used by at least 1828.The popularity of the hats increased in the mid-19th century when many miners of the California Gold Rush traveled to California via the Isthmus of Panama and Pacific Mail Steamship Company. In 1906 , U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the construction site of the Panama Canal and was photographed wearing a Panama hat, which further increased the hats' popularity. Although the Panama hat continues to provide a livelihood for thousands of Ecuadorians, fewer than a dozen weavers capable of making the finest "Montecristi superfinos" remain. Ecuadorian companies like K. Dorfzaun are specialized exporting genuine Panama Hats and supplying designer and retail brands with high quality accessories made by hand. This companies help communities sustain their traditions and intangible cultural heritage. Even though Chinese companies have been producing Panama Hats at a cheaper price, the quality of the product can't be compared with the Ecuadorian toquilla palm hats.
The tamsui hat was a straw hat made in Formosa (now Taiwan) to directly compete with the Panama in the early 20th century. Tamsui hats were made from Pandanus odoratissimus fibre, which grew plentifully on the island.As they retained their whiteness, were washable, and could be folded and carried about without damage, Tamsui hats replaced the rather costlier Panama in East Asia in the early 20th century.
The two main processes in the creation of a Panama hat are weaving and blocking. The two most common types of weaves are the Cuenca and Brisa. The Cuenca weave has the appearance of a herringbone pattern and utilizes slightly more straw than the Brisa weave. The Brisa weave has the appearance of small diamonds/squares. This type of weave is less intricate but perceived as finer than the Cuenca weave by some as it is lighter. Other types of weaves include the Crochet, Fancy,Torcido, and New Order.
The quality of a Panama hat is defined by the tightness of the weave. The fine weave of the hat was ideal for protection against the tropical sun. Historically, to measure the tightness of the weave, a simple square tool that looks like a frame for a one-inch picture was used. The aperture of this frame was 25 mm, or about 1 inch. The regulator would set this frame one inch from the edge of the hat's brim edge, and then count the peaks of the cross weaves, called carerra, moving in a parallel direction. The tighter the weave, the more carerras were counted. That number would be multiplied by two and reconciled against a grading chart. A highly refined grade 20 would consist of 16 carerras.
The price of these hats depends on the time and quality that a weaver put in to the hat. A master weaver could take as long as eight months to weave a single hat. Weavers could sell a single hat to buyers for $200. Once the hat is sold to a buyer it then would pass through more people who would "finish the brim, shape it, remove imperfections, bleach the straw, and add interior and exterior brands."After this one hat has been through at least six people it can then be sold outside of Ecuador for $450 to $10,000. The best hats can sell for up to fifty times more than what one weaver is paid for eight months of labor.
The best quality hats are known as Montecristis, after the town of Montecristi, where they are produced.The rarest and most expensive Panama hats are hand-woven with up to 3000 weaves per square inch. In February 2014, Simon Espinal, an Ecuadorian 47-year-old Panama hat weaver considered to be among the best at his craft, set a world record by creating a Panama hat with four thousand weaves per inch that took eight months to handcraft from beginning to end.
According to popular lore, a "superfino" Panama hat can hold water, and, when rolled up, pass through a wedding ring.
Despite their name, Panama hats have never been made in Panama. They originated in Ecuador where they are made to this day. Historically, throughout Central and South America, people referred to Panama hats as “Jipijapa,” “Toquilla,” or “Montecristi” hats (the latter two phrases are still in use today).Their designation as Panama hats originated in the 1850s, when Ecuadorian hat makers emigrated to Panama, where they were able to achieve much greater trade volumes.
Ecuador's low tourism and international trade levels during the 1850s prompted hat makers to take their crafts to the busy trade center of Panama. There, the hat makers were able to sell more hats than they ever could in Ecuador. The hats were sold to gold prospectors traveling through Panama to California during the historic Californian Gold Rush. Travelers would tell people admiring their hats that they bought them in Panama. So, the hats quickly became known as “Panama hats.”
Soon after at the 1855 World's Fair in Paris, Panama hats were featured for the first time on a global scale. However, the Fair’s catalog did not mention Ecuador as its country of origin. It listed this type of hat as a “cloth hat” even though it was clearly not made out of cloth.
The name "Panama hat" was further reinforced by President Theodore Roosevelt's trip to oversee the construction of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt used his natural ability to drum up publicity by posing for a series of photos at the Panama Canal construction site in 1906. Photographic technology was relatively new at the time, and President Roosevelt was not shy about using the press to his advantage. Photos of his visit showed a strong, rugged leader dressed crisply in light-colored suits sporting Ecuadorian-made straw Panama hats.
Weaving is a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. Other methods are knitting, crocheting, felting, and braiding or plaiting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft, woof, or filling. The method in which these threads are inter-woven affects the characteristics of the cloth. Cloth is usually woven on a loom, a device that holds the warp threads in place while filling threads are woven through them. A fabric band which meets this definition of cloth can also be made using other methods, including tablet weaving, back strap loom, or other techniques without looms.
Hat-making or millinery is the design, manufacture and sale of hats and head-wear. A person engaged in this trade is called a milliner.
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A straw hat is a brimmed hat that is woven out of straw or straw-like materials from different plants or synthetics. The hat is designed to protect the head from the sun and against heatstroke, but straw hats are also used in fashion as a decorative element or a uniform.
Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca, commonly referred as Cuenca is the capital and largest city of the Azuay Province of Ecuador. Cuenca is located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 2,560 metres above sea level, with an urban population of approximately 329,928 and 661,685 inhabitants in the larger metropolitan area. The center of the city is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its many historical buildings.
The majority of Ecuador's population is descended from a mixture of both European and Amerindian ancestry. The other 10% of Ecuador's population originate east of the Atlantic Ocean, predominantly from Spain, Italy, Lebanon, France and Germany. Around the Esmeraldas and Chota regions, the African influence would be strong among the small population of Afro-Ecuadorians that account for no more than 10%. Close to 80% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic, although the indigenous population blend Christian beliefs with ancient indigenous customs.
Ethnic makeup of Ecuador: mestizo 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%.
Manta, also known as San Pablo de Manta, is an Ecuadorian city; cantonal head of the Manta Canton, as well as the largest and most populated city in the Manabí Province. It is the tenth most populous in the country. Manta has existed since Pre-Columbian times. It was a trading post for the Manta, also known as Manteños.
Manabí is a province in Ecuador. Its capital is Portoviejo. The province is named after the Manabí people.
The cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the North American cowboy. Today it is worn by many people, and is particularly associated with ranch workers in the western and southern United States, western Canada and northern Mexico, with many country, regional Mexican and sertanejo music performers, and with participants in the North American rodeo circuit. It is recognized around the world as part of Old West apparel.
Straw plaiting is a method of manufacturing textiles by braiding straw and the industry that surrounds the craft of producing these straw manufactures. Straw is plaited to produce products including straw hats and ornaments, and the process is undertaken in a number of locations worldwide.
Gualaceo, nicknamed “El Jardin del Azuay”, is a canton in the sierra region of Ecuador in the Azauy Province. It is located 35km east from the city of Cuenca and is one of the biggest cities in Azuay.
Ecuadorian Americans are Americans of full or partial Ecuadorian ancestry. Ecuadorian Americans are the 9th largest Latin American group in the United States. Ecuadorian Americans are usually of European,, Mestizo, Amerindian or Afro-Ecuadorian background.
Paccha is a town and parish in Cuenca Canton, Azuay Province, Ecuador. The parish covers an area of 25.6 km² and according to the 2001 Ecuadorian census it had a population total of 5,311.
Textile arts of indigenous peoples of the Americas are decorative, utilitarian, ceremonial, or conceptual artworks made from plant, animal, or synthetic fibers by native peoples of both North and South America.
Andrés Uc Dzul (1910–2004) was a Mexican artisan specializing in the creation of palm hats, especially Panama hats. His work was in great demand in the first half of the 20th century, and he was later recognized as a “grand master”.
Ecua-Andino Hats is an Ecuadorian company founded in 1985 by Alejandro Lecaro and Édgar Sánchez. The brand is dedicated to the production and exportation of Panama hats. It is one of the most important companies producing finished Panama hats in Ecuador.
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Montubio is the term used to describe the mestizo people of the countryside of coastal Ecuador. The Montubio make up 7.4% of the country's population and were recognized as a distinct ethnicity by the government in the spring of 2001 after protests that included protracted hunger strikes. The Council for the Development of the Montubio People of the Ecuadorian Coast and Subtropical Zones of the Littoral Region (CODEPMOC) was granted official status and government funding.
Principal, Ecuador is a small village located at the furthest reaches of the Chordeleg Canton, part of the Azuay Province. There is a local Gobierno Autónimo Descentralizado or GAD that oversees public affairs, the Info Center and internet cafe. Principal is 2791 meters above sea level on the Andes Mountain Range known in Ecuador as the Sierra. The Volcán Fasayña is a massive rock that the town rests beneath, which according to lore is where the Cañari people originated. The town is known for its traditional Panama hats, artisanal goods, and local organic apples. The Panama hats are, according to the local indigenous people, part of the local indigenous dress and the practice of weaving them has been passed down from generation to generation by the women in the population. Principal's climate does not change much season to season as it is located so near the equator; the average temperature is 15.3 degrees Celsius. Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, is only a two-hour bus ride away.
The buntal hat is a traditional straw hat from the Philippines woven from fibers extracted from the petioles of buri palm leaves. It is traditionally worn by farmers working in the fields and was a major export of the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century. It can also be paired with semi-formal barong tagalog as well as informal attire. Its main centers of production are Baliwag, Bulacan and (historically) Sariaya and Tayabas in Quezon Province. Buntal hats produced in Baliwag are also sometimes known as balibuntal hats, and are regarded as superior in quality to other types of buntal hats.
The Panama Hat Trail, by Tom Miller, Univ. of Arizona Press
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