Weaving life – The Story of Ecuador’s “Panama Hat”

Aug 10, 2012 by

Weaving Life – Discovering the Story of Ecuador’s “Panama Hat”

This is a 30min documentary about the perhaps most famous and powerful hat in history. We are following the story and the people who are making the word’s most famous straw hat – the Panama hat.

In truth this hat has always been woven in Ecuador, a small Latin American country. The misnomer Panama hat has its origin from the times when the Panama canal was built and the hat was used by the workers to protect themselves from the sun.

In Europe and North America the hat is sold for up to 10,000 Dollars, while the weavers in Ecuador earn a tenth or less of the selling price. Normally 200 Dollars a month. They can hardly feed their families while the hat is a symbol of status and authority in the First World.

However, still today the hat plays an important part in Ecuador’s history and culture. But the art of weaving the hat is dying out. The handicraft is bad paid and not interesting anymore for young people.

I am following the Panama hat’s trail across Ecuador. We get to know the people who are making the hat, how they live and what role the hat plays in their lives.


With a Hat Tip to “Put This On” (pardon the pun)


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