In Paris France, on December 2012 at the Seven Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the art of Montecristi Weave was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity by the “UNESCO”.
We have committed to sustain the ancient tradition of the “Montecristi Weave” by safeguarding, and transmitting its essence to consumers around the globe. We work very closely with the communities to maintain and sustain new ways of economic, social, educational, and cultural growth.
A Montecristi Panama Hat, has a production, manufacture, and design timeline, that could surpass 15 months, starting from the bud’s harvest until it is placed in its final package. Our team of Master Artisans are based in all the territory of Montecristi, represented by their own associations in each community in order to protect their labor and reach a fair way to national and international trade. The hard working process of “Weaving a Montecristi” go through several and meticulous steps even before the Master Artisan engages in the weaving process. We have reached the highest quality “Montecristi Weave” in the market. We guarantee and certify the best quality product in the market.
Self-sustaining stemless palms, hard hand labor, and ancient knowledge are essential factors to harvest the perfect crops, but the connection between the “Master Artisan” and the wilderness of this tropical forest is necessary to finally have the essence of a Genuine Piece of Art. After the self-fermentation of this plant, and once the toquilla buds are perfectly matured to be harvested, the Master Artisans not only pick the perfect buds, but also feel which toquilla buds will make a great piece of art.
Picking Up the Best Quality “Toquilla Buds”
Not only human factors, but also natural factors are essential to harvest the best quality buds. It is impossible to a weave over 40 grades if the the vegetable fibers are not harvest in this unique region. These qualities and characteristics have created a unique Denomination of Origin letting us take advantage of a Geographical Indication Mark designated to Montecristi – Ecuador.
Carrying Out the “Toquilla Buds” to be processed
Artisans around the area currently use the same old ways and techniques to carry out the crops back to the communities to start the process. There are 48 crops needed to weave an Extra Fino Montecristi Panama Straw Hat. We are working on ways to help them have a more efficient, productive, and easier alternatives to alleviate the artisans journey.
“Shredding and Peeling” the vegetable fibers.
After the crops are dropped off to more artisans in the communities, the artisans check the weather to make sure is not too hot for the vegetable fibers to be peeled. The weather condition is always a key factor for the preparation of the natural materials as well as for the weaving process. Not only hands, but feet are also needed for this step.
Cooking the Vegetable Fibers
After they finish shredding and peeling the fibers, the Artisans carefully and gradually cook them. Medium fire in constant movement is necessary for few minutes. This process is repeated as many times as needed depending on how many hats will be handwoven.
Drying the Fibers.
The vegetable fibers after been gradually cooked, need to be dried in the shade before the craftsmen start the art of weaving. The must be dried during a sunny day, however specifically under a shade. The direct contact with the sun, will damage the quality of the final product. Moreover, during the night the straw is laid out to be dried under the moon. The moon will help to get the natural colors and brightness of the straw. This tradition has been in their communities from generations, for thousands of years back in history.
After the artisans transformed the vegetable fibers and very thin straw stripes, the most experienced artisans are ready to start heand-weaving a Montecristi Panama Hat. In order to start the process they work on the “Armado” It consists of few straw stripes entangled by hand in a very unique and natural symmetrical shape, this will dictate the finesse of the weave. To Hand-crafted the finest Montecristi Panama Hats, the most experienced weavers use as little as 8 of the finest stripes to build the the “Armado” ready to start the “Plantilla”
La “plantilla” is the last step right before the artisans start the longest weaving process. There are three different types of plantillas; Esfera, Cangrejo, and Cruzado. “Esfera”, which means “sphere” is a type of a weave that is composed and woven with the finest fibers exclusively harvested from the plantations of this unique area within the community of Pile – Montecristi. This type of weave will be finally finished as an Extra Fino Montecristi Panama Hat. The “Cangrejo” weave will finished a thicker hat from 14 grades to 24 maybe 26 making a hat that falls into a Llano, Brisa, or Fino Montecristi Panama Hat category. The artisans still use the straw from this particular area within the communities of Pile – Montecristi to have a “cangrejo weave”. Last but not least, we have the “Cruzado”. Cruzado weave is a lot thicker than the other two, and the straw for this specific weave has to be from other plantations where the fiber grows a little thicker as well. One categorie is named after this weave; C_Class or “Cruzado”