Panama Hat: The Straw Hat "Made in Ecuador"
History. It is inferred that the toquilla straw woven began in the integration period within the "Manteña Confederation", as in several figurines made of stone or ceramics, one can see that the men wore a sort of protective on the head -to helmet way- and may have been made with this material so common among them. XVI Century - Early hats.
When the Spanish conquerors arrived in what today are the provinces of Guayas and Manabi on the coast of Ecuador (1532), observed native Indians using straw hats covering their ears and necks. These hats looked like "headdresses", such as those used by the nuns or widows in Europe, then called these hats as "Toquillas" and to the straw wich these are made as "toquilla straw".
Quickly, the Spanish began to also use the toquilla straw hats. Historically, members of indigenous cultures, such as Huancavilcas, Mantas and Caras who lived in the territory now corresponds to the provinces of Guayas and Manabi were considered as skilled weavers and workers in the textile art, of which probably were inherited the qualities that remain today.
During the colonial period, were considered as true masters of the woven straw hats, to the point where they were taken to teach this industry in other parts. In the decade from 1943 to 1953 were obtained the highest figures for exports from toquilla straw hats or Panama hats. In 1855, in Paris opens a worldwide exposure, in which Panama participates with a collection of straw hats, prepared by Philip Raimondi, French who lived in that city. This collection made a favorable impression of European inhabitants due to the fineness of the fabric.
Despite being known as "Panama Hats", the genuine hats are manufactured in Ecuador, not Panama. The hats took that name since it began construction of the Panama Canal, where thousands of hats were imported from Ecuador to workers.
Between 1880 and 1881 the French engineer Fernando Lesseps undertook the construction of the Panama Canal, to link the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean.
It was November 1906. The then U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt was photographed, while maneuvering the controls of a giant steam shovel, while inspecting the construction of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt wore a Panama hat beautiful. The picture appeared in every newspaper and the hat became fashionable! Everyone wanted a Panama hat... Like Roosevelt's hat!
But to our misfortune, the hat's identity was confused. They called "Panama Hat", ignoring it was Made in Ecuador.
When Theodore Roosevelt visited the Canal used the hat, which increased its popularity. People are arriving in large quantities to Panama spread the use of Ecuadorian hat as the most suitable climatic conditions and the type of jobs in that place. Glorified during the XIX century, the Panama has since been considered prince of straw hats.
The national hero and emblematic figure, Eloy Alfaro helped finance his liberal revolution in Ecuador through the export of Panamas, and his father Manuel Alfaro was one of the largest exporters of toquilla straw hat in Manabi. No matter the quality or the price of the hat, but the utility that it provided, became mandatory piece of clothing. These were sent to Panama from Ecuador in gigantic proportions, spreading from there to North America, the Center, to Europe, in short the whole world, but extending the fame and the use of the hat with the name "PANAMA HAT".
The fame and the use of this hat was extended with the name of "Panama Hat", because had a major impact everything that happened in Panama for global attention that caused the union of two oceans; and for this reason, wrongly and undeservedly given this name to straw hat manufactured in Ecuador. The real name should be "MONTECRISTI HAT"