Asian conical hat

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The Vietnamese nón lá

The Asian conical hat, commonly known as an Asian rice hat, coolie hat (in the UK), oriental hat or farmer's hat, is a simple style of conical hat originating in East, South and Southeast Asia; and notable in modern-day nations and regions of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Northeast India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, parts of Outer Manchuria, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It is kept on the head by a cloth (often silk) or fiber chin strap.


Asian conical hats are, throughout Asia, primarily used as a form of protection from the sun and rain. When made of straw or other woven materials, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative cooling device.[1] It is also widely understood in East Asia, most notably Japan, as a symbol of Buddhism, as it is traditionally worn by pilgrims and Buddhist monks in search of alms. They were also worn by the samurai of Japan, where they were known as jingasa (travelling hat) or kasa.

Spanish military uniforms in the Philippines in 1862 showing the salakot (right) worn as part of the traje de campaña (campaign uniform). This later evolved to the colonial pattern pith helmet via the British Empire in India.
Rice farmer in northern Cambodia wearing a do'un

In the Philippines, the salakot is more commonly a pointed dome-shape, rather than conical, with a spike or knob finial. Unlike most other mainland Asian conical hats, it is characterized by an inner headband in addition to a chinstrap. It can be made from various materials including bamboo, rattan, nito, bottle gourd, buri straw, nipa leaves, pandan leaves, and carabao horn. The plain type is typically worn by farmers, but nobles in the pre-colonial period (and later principalia in the Spanish period) crafted ornate variations with jewels, precious metals, or tortoiseshell. These are considered heirloom objects passed down from generation to generation within families.[2][3]

The salakot was also commonly worn by native soldiers in the Spanish colonial army. It was adopted by Spanish troops in the early 18th century as part of their campaign uniform. In doing so, it became the direct precursor of the pith helmet (still called salacot or salacco in Spanish and French).[4]

A decorative Assamese jaapi constructed primarily out of bamboo and leaf while the decorations are felt, threads and tin glitter

In Vietnam, the nón lá ("leaf hat") forms a perfect right circular cone which tapers smoothly from the base to the apex. Special conical hats in Vietnam contain colourful hand-stitch depictions or words while the Huế varieties are famous for their nón bài thơ (lit. poem conical hats). These contain random poetic verses and Hán tự which can be revealed when the hat is directed above one's head in the sunlight. In modern times, they have become part of Vietnam's national costume.[5]

In China, it was typically associated with farmers, while mandarins wore tighter circular caps, especially in the winter.[6]

Similarly in India and Borneo, the plain conical hat was worn by commoners during their daily work, but more decoratively-colored ones were used for festivities. In Sabah, the colorful conical hat is worn for certain dances while in Assam they are hung in homes as decoration or worn by the upper classes for special occasions.

Regional names[edit]

A farmer in Bangladesh wearing a mathal (মাথাল)
Philippine salakot worn by a Filipino farmer

English terms for the hat include sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, bamboo hat and sometimes coolie hat.[7]

In Southeast Asia, it is known as do'un (ដួន) in Cambodia; caping in Indonesia; koup (ກຸບ) in Laos; terendak in Malaysia; khamauk (ခမောက်) in Myanmar; salakot, sarok, sadok, s'laong, hallidung, kallugong, and tabungaw among other names in the Philippines; and nón lá in Vietnam.

In East Asia it is called dǒulì (斗笠, literally meaning a "one-dǒu bamboo hat") in China; kasa () or sugegasa (菅笠) in Japan; and satgat (삿갓) or gaerip (개립, 蓋笠)) in Korea.

In South Asia, it is known as jaapi (জাপি) in Assam (India); in Bangladesh it is known as mathal (মাথাল).[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Conical Hats". Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  2. ^ Peralta, Jesus T. (2013). Salakot and Other Headgear (PDF). National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) & Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP), UNESCO. p. 232.
  3. ^ Nocheseda, Elmer I. "The Filipino And The Salacot". Tagalog Dictionary. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  4. ^ Antón, Jacinto (5 December 2013). "La romántica elegancia de Salacot". Archived from the original on 3 April 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2018 – via
  5. ^
  6. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition. New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1910. pp. 173.
  7. ^ "Coolie hat - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary".
  8. ^ "Bamboo Craft". Banglapedia.

External links[edit]