2022 marked the 10th anniversary of the inscription of the ‘Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat’ (Ecuador) on the Representative List.
For the occasion, UNESCO Quito Office and the Embassy of France in Ecuador have organized many public events to celebrate the inscription, as part of the “Weaving sustainable development in Pile” project.
In Pile, in the province of Manabí, weavers produce extra fine hats that require specific climatic conditions and involve an exact number of points in each row of weaving. Team of experts from the Clave Cultural Foundation (‘Fundación Cultural CLAVE’), a local organization, carried out several workshops with young people between 13 and 17 years old to strengthen the transmission of skills related to the making of the toquilla straw hat. This initiative called “More Youth 4 Pile” (+Jóvenes x Pile) aims at raising awareness on the importance of safeguarding living heritage for younger generations. Participants were introduced to traditional weaving and other practices such as dyeing. They were encouraged to document the processes.
Online webinars were organized, open to the public and communities. Topics tackled notably include traditional weaving of the toquilla straw hat as a source of income and decent work, the protection of the natural environment to ensure the sustainability of this practice, the importance of such traditions to maintain a strong social fabric. Bearers and practitioners of various living heritage practices from Mexico and Colombia also joined the webinars to share their safeguarding experiences.
A touring exhibition was displayed at the headquarters of the Alliance Française of Portoviejo, before moving to the Vicente Amador Flor Park in the capital of Manabí. The exhibition features 13 panels of high-quality photographs picturing weavers in action, as pictured above.
A two-days festival was recently organized by the town council of Pile, together with the associations of weavers. It featured a fair of handicrafts made of toquilla straw and a gastronomic fair. Several civil society organizations and associations joined the event for musical performances, ending the project on a festive note.