This is the story behind ...

Toquilla Straw Hat (Panama Hats)

Many legends circle around the origin of the straw hat (Panama Hat), which has prevented accurately having a specific historical reference about the time and year in which this manufacture appeared in Ecuador, although some historians indicate that it dates to the Period Formative (3,500 BC-500 BC), represented mainly by the Valdivia and Chorrera Cultures. But what has been always clear is that this beautiful garment is one hundred percent Ecuadorian, handcrafted by skillful hands of women and men of Montecristi, Jipijapa, Manabí (Costa) and Cuenca in the Ecuadorian Austro.

The first toquilla straw hats were exported from Ecuador to North America, Central America and Europe at the end of the 19th century, but they got the name of Panamanian Hat or Panama Hat at the beginning of the 20th century due to the famous photos of the construction of the Panama Canal, where many prominent men, along with President Theodore Roosevelt, wore wonderful straw hats, totally unaware that they came from Ecuador and that they were made by skilled manabitas hands, mainly in Montecristi, Manabi.

These days the legendary Toquilla straw hats are still made by hand in Ecuador, mainly in the cities of Montecristi – Manabí and Cuenca – Azuay, using the leaves of the Carludovica Palmata palm tree as raw material.

Each hat is unique, the weaver who starts it finishes it, and it takes 1 to 6 months to finish it. The hat is woven in the afternoon under shade or at night so that the sun and heat don’t dry the straw and mess up. For the world, this is an excellent worth handcraft and a jewel of excellent value. Its use and care are important due to the delicate nature of its construction.

In December 2012, UNESCO recognized the weaving of Toquilla straw hats as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as it is a colonial tradition that has lasted through the centuries. Ecuador is the main exporter of these hats, poorly known around the world as sombreros Panama, Sombrero Panameño or Panama hat, when it would be fair to call them Montecristi Hats, Montecristi Hats; or also, Sombreros Ecuador or Ecuador Hats.

Exclusive designs

Our product line of exclusives and fashions designs let us show a variety of artistic and innovative models with the intention to show using the art in our toquilla straw hats the most important varieties of the flora of our country. Our products are unique and exclusive with an artistic hand made painted that become a value added because of the inspiration of our artist in every model.

Our artist is a young Guayaquil painter, Miriam Menéndez Calderon, who came from a family of artists who dedicated their lives to empowered and demonstrated the value of the Ecuadorian art. Miriam has develop her own ventures the last few years with a lot of success. We as Ecoexport invited her to become part of this project on Exclusive Designs because of her passion to create and her artistic capabilities who has been demonstrated in all her pieces and work, we are sure that her input in the products will become the value added that the customer will appreciate and wear it as an exclusive and unique article of clothing.

Crafts in Tagua

Tagua, also known as ivory walnut or vegetable ivory, is the seed of the Phytelephas macrocarpa palm, which grows in the tropical moist forests of the Pacific region, especially in Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.

It is used and marketed internationally, mainly to make buttons and artistic or decorative figures also ornaments. It grows wild in forests called taguales or cadiales. The Tagua or Ivory Vegetable, is the complex cellulose kernel of the Phytelephas seed, white, hard, heavy, smooth and opaque that acquires shine with the polish, odorless, insipid; but it is not elastic or incorruptible like the real ivory.

Ecuador is one of the main exporters of Tagua handicrafts worldwide and its products are renowned for their originality and quality. In addition to the rebound that has had in recent years due to the decline in the use of ivory and the versatility of being able to develop all types of models required by the tastes of customers.

Ancestral wind musical instruments

The Quena, the Quenacho, the Zampona and the Flautas de Pan are wind musical instruments, used in a traditional way by the inhabitants of the Andes.

Our products are exclusively made of Amazonian bamboo and its creation is exclusive and unique since no product in its final finish is the same as other. The originality is directly related to its handmade, the decoration or finishing is inspirational. In addition you can make models or finishes according to the taste and preference of the client.

Its durability depends on its use and usually last between 3 to 5 years. They can be made in the musical tone that the client needs. In addition to their excellent presentation and finishing many acquire them as decorative and collectible items.