The Panama Straw hats have always been manufactured in Ecuador. They are hand made using the best golden toquilla.
Hand Made Panama Hats
This is Ecuador's most famous export and this natty piece of head wear with an identity crisis has been woven in the southern sierra (highlands) and on the coast of this country for more than a century.
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The confusion over the origin dates back to the sixteen century, after the Spaniards took possession of the Isthmus of Panama, they heard about the richness of the South.
It is then that they decided to expand their conquest. Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro reached the lands of present-day Ecuador in 1526, and in 1534 they founded the Royal Audience of Quito.
Later on, these Panama hats were sent abroad through the Panama Channel, thus receiving this name. However, they were originated on the Ecuadorian coast, specifically in the small town of "Montecristi" in the province of Manabi.
Archaeological discoveries of ceramic figurines wearing strange hats have been made on the Ecuadorian coasts.
Legend tells that the Spaniards discovered a strange headgear that some of the South American natives wore, and they thought that this translucent material was vampire skin.
In the mid-19th century gold seekers from the east coast of the US heading for the California gold rush picked up the Panama straw hats on their way out west.
Fifty years later, workers on the Panama Canal found them as ideal protection against the tropical sun and, like the forty-niners before them, named them after the point of purchases rather than their place of origin. And the name stuck.
Also you can find these wonderful hats in the colonial City of Cuenca these are Panama straw hats of the highest quality.
The genuine article should hold water as surely as a glass and, when rolled up, should be slim enough to pass through a wedding ring.
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The process begins with nature as everything in its last instance, in golden toquilla plantations. Then the straw is cooked in big bowls.
Afterwards, artisans work to fabricate the fiber, and finally, fine weavers braid the hats, purses and baskets that are not necessarily expensive, yet valuable for their usage and artistic origin.
To measure the quality of Panama hats, you must observe the fineness of the weave and the number of rows on the hat's crown.
Depending on how fine the Ecuador hat is, the price can vary from about $10 dollars to approximately $3,000 dollars!.
Some exported hats are sold abroad at even more expensive prices, since most foreigners value handcrafts more than Ecuadorians.
Read the following review written by Brent Black, journalist writer:
It is unimaginable to me that this hat was crafted by human hands.
With my reading glasses on, placed under a strong light, I admire row after row the tiny, even, overlapping threads of straw.
The color is that of old, well carved ivory. Hold it to the light and it glows, seemingly translucent.
"Panama straw hats are truly a work of art".
Next time you visit Ecuador, purchase one of these quality handcrafted hats as a valuable souvenir from this country.
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