Panama hats.

Panama hats. 


Fabrizio Cornalba/Flickr

That traditional brimmed straw hat from Ecuador made from plaited palm leaves?

Panama hat, right?

Wrong. It's been wrong since the early 1900s.

The name gets its origin from the time when the Panama Canal was built, when thousands of these hats were imported from Ecuador for the workers who labored at the ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

According to the BBC, the finest Panama hats in the world come from the Ecuadorean cities of Montecristi and Cuenca. But locals in a small village called Pile, giving up on the Ecuadorean vs. Panama hats argument, say they're manufacturing the “best Panama Hat in the world.”

These hats from the toquilla palm, depending on quality, can go for $100 or for thousands.

In 2012, Unesco put the village and its hat-making tradition on its cultural heritage list. 

The hat-makers recommend a few tips to buyers, such as:

"In dry weather, when you see the hat too dry and rigid, moisten it from time to time with the steam of an iron from a distance, or keep in the bathroom while taking a shower. It will acquire flexibility and will be less brittle. Under wet conditions, keep the hat in a dry place, to prevent the appearance of mold in the palm." [Translated]


Entre los sombreros más finos y caros del mundo, el sombrero Panamá hecho en Pile, Ecuador.

— Hannah (@HannahPty) January 10, 2016

"Among the finest and most expensive in the world, Panama hat made in Pile, Ecuador."

Me encantan los abanicos, pero que me hayan regalado un "Sombrero Panamá", eso realmente... ¡Enamora!

— Liz (@LaTerribleLiz) January 7, 2016

"I love fans, but to get as a present a “Panama hat,” that really… enamors!"

Quiero un sombrero Panamá.

— Jose Pablo (@GreenCR) January 4, 2016

"I want a Panama hat."

Ya quiero que llegue la primavera para estrenar una camiseta polo azul marino y un sombrero panama.

— Alfredo Denali (@alfredo_denali) December 27, 2015

It seems the future of the Panama Hat is assured, with a new generation of handicrafters along the so-called Hat Road.

Yes, the Hat Road.

This story was cross-posted from Global Voices, a community of hundreds of bloggers worldwide.


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