Straw hats are an accessory declared as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2012. They are very popular around the world, although many people know it with Panama Hat, its real name is Montecristi Hat because of the city of origin Montecristi in Ecuador.
But more than its origin it is necessary to know that there are some texts agree that toquilla straw hats existed in the Formative Period (3,500 BC-500 BC), in the Valdivia and Chorrera cultures. According to the book 'Tejiendo la Vida', by María Leonor Aguilar: "The Huancavilcas, Blankets and Faces, aborigines that lived in the territory of what today corresponds to Guayas and Manabí, have been considered as very skilled weavers and art workers textile ", which would explain the Manabi origin of the hats, which later spread to Azuay and Cañar.
Making this craft is a very complex job, making a hat can take two to six months, depending on its quality. Well, among the finer the fabric, the more time and dedication needed for termination.
For the elaboration process, at least three people participate, the first one who does the work of going to collect the raw material, and transforms it into toquilla straw , the second person who is in charge of knitting the hats, and the third who is the one who finishes the craft and gives it the final finish for the sale. The hat is made with the internal part in ivory white or pearl white. To extract a fine product, twelve buds are needed, ten for a thick or current, eight or nine for the draft, which is the fastest and most economical.
I have noticed a lot, that some people who visit Montecristi, to learn the work of making straw hats, are amazed by the technique of the weavers at the time of weaving, but they are also left with the curiosity to know more about straw toquilla
According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, the straw toquilla or is the 'Carludovica Palmata', a tuber or potato similar to the banana, which is currently grown in the mountainous areas of El Aromo, el Pile, San Lorenzo and Jipijapa, in Manabí . The toquilla straw is a kind of palm without a trunk whose fan-shaped leaves emerge from the ground.