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Homero Ortega Toquilla Straw Hat Factory

Craft tradition of a UNESCO Intangible Heritage

QUICK PROFILE

• Interest:

CULTURE

• Country:
ECUADOR

2250

• Altitude meters:

• Min. visit time hours:

1

MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY

• Type:

• Location:
CUENCA CITY

• Kind:

URBAN

• Altitude feet:

7381

• Max. visit time hours:

1

RELEVANT CATEGORIES

Intangible World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO - Within Cajas Massif Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO - Cultural National Heritage by the Ecuadorian Government

GALLERY 

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ADDRESS & ACTIVITIES

ADDRESS OR VENUE

OPENING HOURS (or DATE if it is an event)

Gil Ramírez Dávalos Avenue 3-86, Cuenca City, Ecuador

  • Monday to Friday 08:30 - 12:30 and 14:30 - 18:00

  • Saturdays 08:30 - 12:30

RELATED ACTIVITIES

VISITS:

  • GUIDED      VISITS

  • INDEPENDIENT      VISITS

  • EXPERIENTIAL      JOURNEY

CULTURAL:

  • ATTENDING      FOLKLORIC EVENTS

  • ATTENDING      ARTISTIC EVENTS

  • ATTENDING      COMMERCIAL EVENTS

ENTERTAIMENT:

  • SHOPPING


 



ABOUT

Homero Ortega is the brand name of an important producer of hats and other toquilla straw articles in the city of Cuenca. For 120 years and five generations, the Ortega family has given continuity to this economic activity, making it the oldest and most experienced organization in the export of straw hats. In 2012 UNESCO inscribed the Traditional Ecuadorian Toquilla Straw Hat Weaving Technique on the list of Intangible World Cultural Heritage.

 

The factory has been based, since its creation until today, in the urban parish of El Vecino, in the city of Cuenca. Homero Ortega is its founder, linked to this work since he was a child. He learned the business from his father Aurelio Ortega García. In the beginning, together they ventured through the dangerous route of "El Cajas" to Guayaquil. In the port they sold hats to merchants who took them to Panama on ships.

 

During the 20th century, the company consolidates and grows. Its success is based on the capacity to adapt to the different scenarios of the world market, to the conception of the toquilla straw hat as a manifestation of the popularity and the production with quality.

 

An outstanding element of Homero Ortega is the Museum "The Magic of the Hat", open to the public since 2008. It was the concretion of a project of public diffusion of the history of the toquilla straw hat as a handmade product in Ecuador. 


The Museum has three rooms: the history of the hat, its elaboration and the trajectory of the company. Visitors enjoy an interactive experience. One of the most photographed and recognized prints is the toquillera artisan that demonstrates how the hat is woven. The Museum is a member of ICOM, a UNESCO partner institution. 


Some historical data of the permanent exhibition of the Museum are the following: the Azuayan businessman Bartolomé Serrano had the initiative to teach the hat weaving to the artisans of Azuay and Cañar in 1835, through weavers of the city of Montecristi, to face a strong economic crisis; the toquilla straw hat was the number one export product of Ecuador between 1944 and 1946; the first exports took place in the middle of the XIX century from Manabí; from Cuenca the exports began in 1890.

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