The Authentic Panama Hat is 100% Ecuadorian

The Montecristi hat has reached our time since ancient and remote times. Knitted with great skill in the expert hands of women, men and young descendants of master craftsmen.


The authentic Panama hats are not made in Panama, they are from Ecuador.

Who gave you that name?

The President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, is said to have called him that in 1906 when he visited the works of the Panama Canal.

But who forgets history?

That the President of the United States, William Howard Taft, also called it that, and he and his party always used it in 1910, visiting the works of the Panama Canal.


The truth is that Theodoro Roosevelt had one (or perhaps several Panama hats) before going to Panama. As it is recorded that on December 27, 1902, in fact, he wrote a brief and cordial letter from Washington to Manuel Álvarez Calderón, Minister of Peru, to thank him for the Christmas present: a "Panama Hat". So it is obvious that the jipijapa was already known as the name of the isthmus.

And most certainly, the time of the Gold Rush.

The name 'panama hat' or 'chapeau panama' goes back to the phenomenon of the gold rush and because in a judicial chronicle of the August 26, 1852 of the 'New York Times' the version of a witness is reproduced that says that one Of the criminals who robbed and murdered a security guard, he wore check pants that were neither too light nor too dark and covered his head with "a white Panama Hat a black ribbon around". It was six years before Theodore Roosevelt was born.




FROM 1534 TO 1630

In pre-Hispanic times, when those coasts were inhabited by the Chorrera, Bahía, Guangala, Jama Coaque and Manteña cultures, our ancestors already made toquilla straw hats. And in 1534 the Spanish colonizing mission learned about the precious fabric, through the intermediary of Father José María Cobos, companion of Sebastián de Benalcázar. He observed that the natives of Bahía de Caráquez, Manta, Jipijapa were wearing them and they explained that they were bat-winged …

More than 20 thousand inhabitants lived in Manta, before the Spanish arrival. Between 1547 and 1550 only 50 Indians lived; something similar happened in the other towns. By 1605 the settlers were subjected and forced to tax.

In the year 1630 he arrived in Montecristi, Ecuador to settle Francisco Delgado, he came from Panama, Colombia. And detected the hats of “Bat Wings”. And I thought it could be transformed into the Toca that the nuns carry on their heads. He and the indigenous people of Jipijapa began to produce the fine Tocas, later recognized as “Toquillas”. And an Indian named Pedro Domingo Chóez in Julcuy, Jipijapa parish, became the first and main weaver imitating Tocas.

FROM 1748 TO 1788

For 1762 the legal exports from Ecuador to Acapulco, Mexico are known; mainly of Cocoa, Aguardiente, Cascarilla, Cera, Pita, Tobacco, Wood, Soles and Hats Jipijapa.

The Italian Jesuit Mario Cicala, expelled by decree of the Jesuit community from Ecuador wrote that in Jipijapa a straw “as white as snow” is produced with which they weave beautiful hats. From 1748 to 1767 Jipijapa, by then with a population close to 6 thousand inhabitants, became the Center for Production and Commerce of the Jipijapa hat, which was sold between 3 to 6 Escudos. Monthly it exported 25 thousand pesos, half of all the total product of the province.

Between 1765 and 1788 the exports of Hats Jipijapa grew:
1775 – 1928   units
1784 – 4238  units
1785 – 6830  units
1786 – 9625  units
1787 – 15401 pieces
1788 – 17299 pieces

FROM 1780 TO 1835

By 1780,1790 and 1800 the valleys of the north coast of Peru (Piura, Lambeyeque, Chicama, Trujillo) became the main export market for the hats of Jipijapa, taking Guayaquil as the route. Migrants from different regions of the world gradually arrived in Guayaquil, among them the Spanish Manuel Antonio de Luzarraga, who became a merchant of the Jipijapa hats and an exporter.

In 1835, a Spanish political exile, Manuel Alfaro González, arrived in Guayaquil and received help from his compatriot Manuel Antonio de Luzarraga. The latter employed him in his businesses and sent him to Montecristi to buy hats. There he meets Natividad Delgado López, daughter of the Regidor of the Cabildo de Montecristi and with whom he formed a family. In 1738 it became independent and opened its own warehouse in Montecristi. Friend of the First President of Ecuador Juan José Flores of Venezuelan origin. In 1741 he traveled to Central America to find new markets for the Jipijapa hats. In 1742 his son Eloy Alfaro Delgado, future President of Ecuador, was born and in that same year he suffered a great fire that prevented him from continuing with the hat business. In 1862 she married Natividad Delgado. in 1870 he separated and went to live in Costa Rica and in 1871 he died at the age of 75.

The main merchants between 1842 and 1843 of the hats were Manuel Córdoba in Montecristi. Florencio Andrade in Jipijapa, Manta, Montecristi, Portoviejo, Santa Ana, Pichota, Charapoto, Tosagua and Chone where the hat was also woven and in Manta José Moreira main exporter. The port of Manta was authorized to export, but in 1836 President Vicente Roca Fuerte authorized only the departure of Cacao, following the manifests from Guayaquil. Since 1565 all the ships that came from the south stopped over to Panama. For 1841 President Juan José Flores closed it due to the increase in contraband. In 1861 the port begins to have its own autonomy.

FROM 1835 TO 1855

In 1835, thanks to the Azogues corregidor Don Bartolomé Serrano and with the objective of improving the economic crisis of its inhabitants (they did not work and dedicated to leisure), he brought weavers craftsmen from Jipijapa to teach how to knit the hat. By 1841 Benigno Malo asked President Juan José Flores to approve the formation of the company to benefit La Toquilla as the main source of work. And expand the routes of hat weaving to Tabacundo and Ibarra. in 1844 the Cabildo de Cuenca ordered by ordinance the “Teaching of the Manufacture of Hats” in all schools with the weavers of Jipijapa. Already in 1845 the same process also began in Azogues, Cañar.

Between 1848 and 1849 Panama became the Center for the Marketing and Export of the Jipijapa Hat during the Gold Rush in California. So many hats were exported that by 1852 President José María Urbina decreed several taxes on the hat according to its quality. 2 reales for half a dozen fine and entrefinos hats. 1 Real for a dozen of Currents …

Just by the port of Guayaquil in 1852, 21,775 dozen hats were exported.

At the beginning of the 20th century, an authentic Jipijapa is already sold for US $ 75 in Panama.


In 1852, most weavers in Jipijapa abandoned their source of work. Others migrate to different regions such as Peru, Colombia, Panama, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico …

In 1855 a world exhibition prepared by the Frenchman Philippe Raimondi was inaugurated in Paris, and he was assisted with a collection of toquilla straw hats, made in Manabi lands of Ecuador. Napoleon III, Emperor of France, was presented with a Fine hat. But in the catalog of the exhibition the name of Ecuador does not appear as an exhibiting country and it is in the space reserved for “Comarcas Diversas” where the port of origin such as Panama is explained.

Gold Rush
The Gold Rush generated thousands of migrants who passed through Panama and bought hats.
Gold Rush
Railroads were the most important means of transportation from Panama to Mexico ... by then, Mexico had its borders to the north.
Gold Rush
Migrants came from all over the world. From China, Europe, South America and the Montecristi Hat were already acquired in Panama by travelers ...
Ferdinand de Lesseps
Ferdinand Marie, Viscount of Lesseps, sometimes Spanish as Fernando de Lesseps (Versailles, France; November 19, 1805-La Chênaie, Indre, France; December 7, 1894) was a career diplomat and French businessman. He carried out two ambitious engineering works during the second half of the 19th century: the famous Suez Canal (04-25-1859 / 11-17-1869) and the Panama Canal. The first ended in 1869, but the suspension of the second in 1889 caused his country's rejection and led to one of the largest financial scandals in France in the late 19th century.
Theodoro Roosevelt
Work resumed on December 9, 1894, two days after Lesseps's death. The Lesseps company was acquired by the chief engineer of the canal construction site, Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla. The Thousand Days War that would affect Panama and Colombia between 1899 and 1902 would paralyze the works of the canal and Bunau-Varilla cedes the rights of exploitation, construction and control to the United States with the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty signed on November 18, 1903, almost immediately after the revolution that caused the forced separation by the United States of Panama from Colombia and the new republic of Panama, would be represented as president by Bunau-Varilla. The sale of the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal Interoceanique for US $ 40 million to the United States in February 1904, including the Panama Railroad project, a sum of US $ 10 million and an annual income of US $ 250,000 would grant the rights perpetual over the canal and a wide area of ​​eight kilometers on each side of it. The project was completed on August 15, 1914.
William Howard Thaft
The Presidents of the United States, in 1906 Theodore Roosevelt and in 1910 William Howard Taft personally supervised the works of the Panama Canal and both always wore white summer outfits and 'Panama Hats'.
Theodore Roosevelt

President of the United States No. 26: 1901 - 1909

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt was an essential part of the transformation of Latin America. He personally supervised the works of the Panama Canal, but he was not the one who inaugurated it. His successor William Howard Taft 1909 – 1913 fulfilled that role.


The current century owes the name “Panama Hat” to all migrants, travelers, explorers, and adventurers who were heading to California, formerly part of Mexico due to the Gold Rush, and had as their obligatory passage to Panama, formerly part of Colombia…

… and in Panama all travelers acquired a Jipijapa or Montecristi hat, very well-known there since centuries past.