Beautiful land of my dreams … so begins the song which has the same name as this province, thus Manabi in Ecuador. Undoubtedly, those who are born in this land of fighters and visionaries feel the native pride in its historical legacy as well as the customs; traditions and way of living that create our very own cultural identity and makes us stand out from the rest of the country.
To speak of Manabi is to talk about gastronomy, revolution, traditions, warmth of its people and much more. The importance of the cultural identity is such that every year an entire month (June) is dedicated to an agenda of activities designed to strengthen the Manabí culture.
If there’s an object that captures the essence of the Manabí Province it is most certainly the Straw Hat, commonly (and incorrectly) known as Panama Hat. Despite the popular belief, the hat, or rather the process of making it has been present in Manabi for centuries and its rightful birthplace is the ancient town of Montecristi.
The Panama Hat weaving is an ancient knowledge passed from generation to generation. It’s a tradition that continues today bringing entire families. Moreover, it represents a lifestyle that creates a sense of identity and social cohesion reference for both the craftsmen who manufacture the hats and the people of Manabi.
If you take a look at the skilled hands of the artisans who make the hats, you’ll realize the show hard work, knowledge and patience. It’s important to remember that there is a great variety to choose from, you can buy a regular hat or the finest, called Premium Panama Hats, which can take up to six months.
In late 2012 the ancient weaving tradition and techniques of the famous Straw Hats was declared as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. This is a triumph for Ecuadorians, because after years of waiting the true nationality of the hats is finally being recognized.
For all the above the hat shouldn’t be considered just an object, it’s a skilled craftsman Ecuadorian art that has been perfected over time. We could say the Genuine Straw Hats are an Ecuadorian icon, and the ancestral tradition involved on their elaboration makes us all very proud and happy.