Panama Hat

A Panama hat (sometimes informally among hat enthusiasts, just a Panama - see Isthmus of Panama) is a traditional brimmed hat of Ecuadorian origin that is made from the plaited leaves of the toquilla straw plant (Carludovica palmata). Straw hats woven in Ecuador, like many other 19th and early 20th century South American goods, were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe. For some products, the name reflects their point of international sale rather than their place of domestic origin; hence "Panama hats". The 49ers picked up these hats in Panama, and when President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal construction, he wore such a hat, which increased its popularity. They're also known as a Jipijapa, named for a town in Ecuador. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a use of the term as early as 1834.

Glorified during the 19th century, the Panama has since been considered the prince of straw hats. The Ecuadorian national hero and emblematic figure Eloy Alfaro helped finance his liberal revolution of Ecuador through the export of panamas. The reputation of the hat was established by Napoleon III, Edward VII, and some other aficionados.

Read more about Panama Hat:  Usage, Quality, Bibliography

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