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Committee was formed to safeguard the traditional fabric of the Panama Hats

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The Montecristi hat mistakenly known as the Panama Hat is woven by Ecuadorian hands. Montecristi is the city where these handmade hats are found. Weavers take between 1 to 6 months to knit a hat. It all depends on the degree of complexity to make a hat, which ends up becoming a unique piece of elegance and comfort. The fabric of the hat can vary according to its degree of fineness. The finer the fabric, the price will be higher. A Montecristi hat is between $ 50 to $ 800. A fine hat is capable of bending and returning to its original shape, this is possible due to its micro braids that are carefully interwoven to give them that perfect finish.

The Panama hat in 2012 was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Currently, a committee has been formed to safeguard the traditional weaving of this hat. To care for and preserve tissue knowledge. This ancient wisdom, of which there are traces since before the Spanish colonization, is part of the tradition of a people that still continues this work despite the profound historical changes that have occurred in the territory.

Panama hat weaving knowledge of the fabric and in addition to safeguarding the hat's tissue, the work of the weavers will be recognized and valued. To the people who carry this heritage of knowledge, both older people and the new generations who are learning.

The committee will perform functions to implement the Safeguard Plan. The functions are based on Coordinating, articulating, and formulating policies and actions aimed at the protection of the hat. In this way, the Toquilla Straw hat will have more guarantees.

It will also be known more in international markets. The territorial tables of Manabí, Guayas, Santa Elena, Cañar, Azuay, and Morona Santiago also come together to develop the Montecristi hat weaving safeguard plan.

All this management at a political and social level is added as a benchmark of unity to care for the living heritage of the toquilla straw hat since it is necessary to mention that in recent years before this committee, artisans have been in decline, as new Generations do not see the production of hats economically, since they do not have a fixed market to support them, and few artisans manage to live solely on the sale of toquilla straw hats.

That is the goal of being able to achieve fair trade for our artisans, those who are the true artists of this fabric, it is our duty to make known that they are the protagonists of our hat, they weave to bring you the best product and receive in exchange for the fair value of their work.

Know a little more about our weavers

The weavers of Panama Hats enjoy this work, they are proud of the knowledge they have inherited, it is their knowledge of their customs, of their history. When they mention the work of weaving, they describe it as the inheritance of their lineage. Knowing that it is their work is essential, since it is not a simple accessory that they elaborate, it is their materialized knowledge. More than a job, it is a passion for them. Panama Hat Weave Mariana Mero (59 years old); hails from Montecristi. She started weaving hats from childhood like most Montecristi inhabitants who are dedicated to weaving. Her mother and aunt taught her techniques for knitting a hat. She dedicates herself to knitting because income is not always obtained from another economic activity.

Her family is of limited economic resources. Hats support your home in recent years. "I was 10 years old when I started knitting hats. I am the oldest of 4 siblings; my mother did not have to pay for the study of all of us. She sacrificed long hours of work in the fine tissue of the hat to bring us food. For this reason, I asked her to teach me how to knit hats. In this way I helped with household expenses, "said Mariana Mero.

The hats have the particularity that the person who starts the hat finishes it, so the fabric is homogeneous and remains unanimous from the crown to the wings. Although there are specific cases where two people weave the same hat. Normally that does not happen, it is usually a single person who weaves a single piece of hat.

The care in the details is essential, the finishes of the fabric and its texture are very fine, so the craftsman takes care of everything in the least. Mariana worked hard three weeks or more for each hat. It is done on a support to keep the body in good position. In this way, it does not affect the chest or the spine. However, she says that because of this work she suffers from the spine, the long hours in that position as the years go by accumulating lumbar pain, in the knees and feet.

The Hat Regulatory Office will take precautionary measures for the health of weavers. This includes massaging the affected parts. Also, give oral cleaning to take care of your teeth. This is done so that the artisans can work satisfactorily. “Part of the secret to a good hat finish is splashing water over the fabric when it's almost finished.

This softens the straw and does not break its strands. The fabric is also tightened so that it does not come loose, this work is part of my life, I would not change it, I appreciate every time they take a hat, and more so if it is in another part of the world, I feel that little by little it recovers value the tissue, "said Mariana.

Like Mariana, many people knit the Panama Hats. Many of these people were affected by the 4/16 earthquake. They get up day after day after this tragedy. You can help increase their jobs, value a fabric that carries ancient knowledge with you, and supports fair trade.

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