"Panama Hats" Montecristi by grandmaR

Montecristi Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 76 photos

This village is internationally renowned for the high quality of the “Panama Hats”. Lying at the foot of a large hill called Montecristi, the small town of the same name has many attractions such as Eloy Alfaro’s (an ex-Ecuadorian President) house, the Hermanas Largacha Museum, and the Monserrate Sanctuary, where thousands of Ecuadorian and foreign pilgrims traditionally flock, especially on the weekends. Another place of interest is La Pila, whose artisans make a variety of sculptures and replicas of Pre-Colombian ceramics. In addition to hats, these artisan centers display other handmade crafts made of different types of straw and iron.

In Montecristi, Ecuador live a handful of master weavers, the creators of the finest straw hats in the world "Montecristi Panama Hats". Hats so fine, they almost defy description. Montecristi panama hats are made from toquilla straw, hand-split into strands not much thicker than thread and woven so finely, at first a panama hat appears to be made from linen. Masterpieces of detail, the edges of these panama hats are woven back into the brim never trimmed and sewn like lesser quality panama hats. Each panama hat is woven by a single artisan, hand-blocked, and takes months to complete. Because there are so few master weavers of panama hats left (two generations ago there were 2000 panama hat weavers; today there are about 20 weavers of panama hats), these works of woven art are becoming endangered to the point of disappearing.

  • Last visit to Montecristi: Nov 2008
  • Intro Updated Jan 3, 2009
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grandmaR

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