Weaving shawl straw to make hats (also know as the Panama hat) and multiple crafts such as baskets, bags, decorations, and purses is a tradition in the Cuenca and Azuay regions of Ecuador. The fiber comes the palm of the carludovica palmate.
The manufacturing process of shrawl straw hats and crafts begins with the fibers taken from the palms and treated to become soft and clear. It is then sold to the artesians to be worked into various products.
The finest fibers will be used in the best hats. The weaving is performed by hand in a circular manner. A mold is used to form the different part of the hat, the inner lining, cup and skirt.
The Panama hat is know world wide for its high quality and has become synonymous with elegance and distinction. The hats are popular with both men and women, indigenous populations as well as gringos.