When the export of the Panama hat surpassed cocoa
Since December 5, 2012, the “Traditional fabric of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat” is on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This traditional garment that has been maintained for centuries has its origin in Manabí; the weavers of Montecristi and Jipijapa specialized in the elaboration of hats under the European model.
However, in the 19th century, this activity attracted the interest of the Ecuadorian Austro. The provinces of Azuay and Cañar were the protagonists of what became known as the “toquillero boom”.
To such an extent that in 1854 the export of toquilla straw hats surpassed cocoa; around 1863, 500,000 hats were exported from the Port of Guayaquil.
Europe and the United States began to demand this product, which was promoted at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1855.
The hat became even more popular with the construction of the Panama Canal, initially used by workers to protect themselves from the sun; Later, important political and entertainment figures began to wear toquilla straw hats, becoming a highly desired fashion accessory.
Currently, its elaboration is maintained in Ecuador; the fabric was preserved and passed down from generation to generation in three provinces:
Picoazá, Pacoche, El Aromo, Montecristi, San Bartolo, Las Pampas, Valencia, Nueva Esperanza, Las Palmas, Los Bajos, Los Anegados, La Solita, Pile, Guayabal, La Pila, Calceta, Santa Marianita, Cerro Copetón, La Sequita, Pepa de Huso.
Dos Mangas, Febres Cordero, Barcelona. In the province of Cañar: Luis Cordero, Nazar, Solano, Zhud, Déleg, Azogues, Uishil.
Sidcay, Molleturo, Luis Cordero, Checa, San Joaquín, Cuchil, Tarqui, Tullupamba, Bella Vista, San Fernando, Pucará, Santa Isabel, El Pan, Oña, La Union, Ricaurte.