Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat
The toquilla straw hat is woven from fibres from a palm tree characteristic of the Ecuadorian coast. Coastal farmers cultivate the toquillales and harvest the stems before separating the fibre from the green outer skin. This is boiled to remove chlorophyll and dried for subsequent bleaching with sulfur over a wood fire. Weavers take this raw material and begin weaving the crown and the brim of the hat. Weaving a hat can take from one day to eight months, depending on the quality and finesse. In Pile, a costal community, weavers produce extra fine hats that require specific climatic conditions and involve an exact number of points in each row of weaving. The process is completed by washing, bleaching, moulding, ironing and pressing. The weavers are mostly peasant families and transmission of weaving techniques occurs within the home from an early age through observation and imitation. The skills and knowledge enfold a complex and dynamic social fabric including traditional techniques of cultivation and processing, forms of social organization, and use of the hat as part of everyday clothing and in festive contexts. It is a distinctive mark of the communities perpetrating this tradition and part of their cultural heritage.
Decision 7.COM 11.12
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The knowledge and practices related to the toquilla straw hat are transmitted from one generation to another and provide the bearing communities with a sense of cultural identity and continuity, serving as a reference of social cohesion among different groups living in coastal and Andean regions of Ecuador.
- R.2: As a cultural practice that promotes intercultural dialogue among diverse Ecuadorian communities, inscription of the traditional weaving of the toquilla hat on the Representative List could raise awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage and promote respect for cultural diversity and dialogue.
- R.3: Safeguarding measures including research, revitalization, transmission, dissemination, promotion, development and protection of the traditional weaving reflect the commitments of the community and the State to pass down this know-how to new generations.
- R.4: Different actors involved in the traditional weaving of the straw hat have attended a series of workshops to elaborate the nomination and a number of artisans’ associations gave their free, prior and informed consent for its inscription.
- R.5: Various craft techniques involved in the manufacture of the toquilla straw hat are included in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Ecuador maintained by the National Institute for Cultural Heritage.
Inscribes the traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© 2013 by Promysel
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website