The Panama the King of Hat
Light and cool and picturesque, they appeal to both the lover of comfort and the devotee of the well dressed. The Panama is a hat of the highest quality, it is flexible and is closely woven almost as a piece of taffetta silk. Panama hats are not made in Panama, as the name suggests but in Ecuador, where their manufacture is a major industry. They were so called originally because Panama was the chief centre of the distribution to the world. Panama was applied to this type of hat by the gold prospectors crossing the Isthmus of Panama on the way to an from the California goldfields.
These hats, which are not straw hats in the strict sense of the term, a plated from toquilla, a flexible and durable fibre derived from the young leaves of palm like plant, (Carludovica palmata), which is a stemless screw pine which grows wild in South and Central America, particularly in Ecuador.
Making Panama hats is generally a home industry often the sideline of farmers. The fine toquilla or jipijapa leaves are plucked somewhat green carefully sorted, split, boiled and sunbleached. The women and children do most of the actual weaving, which is a tedious and delicate task that may take from one to several weeks on a single