Journey of a Panama Hat
Expertly hand-woven from the palm-like grass Carludovica Palmata, few items are as much of a style, class and fashion statement as the Panama Hat. Named after its first appearance on the world stage during the construction of the Panama Canal in the first decade of the 20th century, Panamas hats have always come from Ecuador and have been woven in the Andean region for over 6000 years, the earliest example being depicted on a clay Valdivia pot.
Panama hat production in Montecristi and Jipijapa
In the early 1600s, the Spanish conquistadors exploited forced native labour to produce Panama hats for profit, using european hat shapes to replace the traditional Ecuadorian bat wing style. The coastal villages of Jipijapa and Montecristi, where small-scale weaving took place, gave their names to the hats produced there. The name Montecristi is still associated with the Panama Hat, thanks to the skills of the weavers in producing the finest of hats.