The Art of Making a Panama Hat

Panama hats are a timeless accessory that will never go out of style.panama hat They can be worn with jeans and a T-shirt or with a formal dress. No matter the occasion, a panama will keep you warm, stylish and protect you from the sun. There are many ways to wear a panama hat and the selection depends on your personal preferences, face shape and proportions. The right size of brim is also important, as it determines the width of the hat. Larger brims can look better on bigger heads and wider faces, while smaller brims will suit people with finer features and thinner heads.

The term “panama” – contrary to popular belief – does not refer to the country from which these hats originate, but rather to the weaving technique itself. It is a craft that has been passed down through generations and it was only in the mid-nineteenth century that the world embraced this hat. It became famous at the time of the Panama Canal construction, when thousands of workers needed something to shield themselves from the intense tropical sun. The hat was later praised by renowned figures like Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Today, this unique craftsmanship has gained worldwide recognition and has received the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The art of making a panama hat is conserved in the Ecuadorian towns of Montecristi and Jipijapa (Manabi Province) and the process is still regarded as one of the finest in the world.

Weaving a panama requires skilled dexterity and precision. The most experienced weaver – called a Tejedor – can spend up to six months on just one hat. The work is done in the morning or evening, when the hands are not sweating from the heat of the afternoon sun. The weavers begin with the thin leaves of a plant called paja toquilla, which grow in the humid and hilly towns of Montecristi and Jipijapa. The leaves are boiled, dried and then separated into very fine threadlike filaments, which are used to make the hat.

The weavers then create the woven foundation of the hats using a variety of different techniques. The most common are the cuenca and brisa weaves. The former is similar to a herringbone pattern and uses more straw than the latter, which has a diamond or square appearance. Other types of weaves include the torcido and the new order. The quality of the hats depends on the skill and experience of the weavers, as well as the raw materials they use and the way they handle them. The more careful the weavers are, the higher the quality of the finished product.

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