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. » Read more: Panama Montecristi Hat: How old weaving really is?
• Extraction of the buds or toquilla-straw wrappers.
• Treatment of the fiber.
• Sales of buds ready for weaving the hat.
• Hat weaving.
The straw hat consists of three parts: body, crown and brim. Weaving starts with the body and in in the center it has a circular shape. To weave the body and the brim no instrument is required. However, it is essential to use a block to shape the hat.
As mentioned previously, the artisan sends the semi-elaborated hat to the city where the hat is finished (remate). Once the hat is finished (remate) it is washed and perfumed, using the same process when treating the fiber. The crown of the hat is accommodated on a block with a leather headband around it. We then apply water and glue to allow shaping. » Read more: Straw Hats “Panama Hats”: Process and Techniques
Ecuador is world famous for the quality of their straw hats. These arise from the ability of artisans/weavers, mostly women of the provinces of Manabi, Cañar, Guayas and Esmeraldas. For hat weaving you can use the tender leaves or the bark of the paja toquilla plant, a kind of an African palm.
The basic raw material for manufacturing straw hats is the Carludovica Palmata. Which is grown in the mountainous parts of the East and of the Coast of Ecuador, provinces of Manabi, Guayas, Esmeraldas and Morona Santiago (Gualaquiza). » Read more: Panama Hats or Montecristi Hats