The Asian conical hat is a simple style of conically shaped sun hat originating in East, South and Southeast Asia; and notable in modern-day nations and regions of China, Taiwan, parts of Outer Manchuria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is kept on the head by a cloth or fiber chin strap, an inner headband, or both.
In Southeast Asia, it is known as do'un (ដួន) in Cambodia; caping or seraung in Indonesia; koup (ກຸບ) in Laos; terendak in Malaysia; ngop (งอบ) in Thailand; khamauk (ခမောက်) in Myanmar; salakot, sarok, sadok, s'laong, hallidung, kallugong, and tabungaw among other names in the Philippines; and nón lá in Vietnam.
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.
In China, it was typically associated with farmers, while mandarins wore tighter circular caps, especially in the winter. There are several conical hat types worn during the Qing dynasty (see Qing official headwear).
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.
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).
In Vietnam, the nón lá, nón tơi (“hats”), nón gạo (“rice hat”), nón dang (“conical hat”) or nón trúc ("bamboo 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. The Huế varieties are famous for their nón bài thơ (lit. poem conical hats) and contain random poetic verses and Chữ Hán, which can be revealed when the hat is directed above one's head in the sunlight. In modernity, they have become part of Vietnam's national costume.
In India, Bangladesh 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.
A farmer in Bangladesh wearing a mathal (মাথাল)
A selection of conical hats in Hainan, China
Souvenir nón tơi for tourists from Vietnam
A silver inlaid Filipino salakot
A Korean man in traditional mourning clothes and satgat
Making conical hats (nón tơi) in Huế countryside, Vietnam
Three Sama-Bajau women wearing saruk from Jolo, Sulu, Philippines, c.1900
- List of hats and headgear
- Fulani hat
- Pointed hat
- Pilgrim's hat
- Mokoliʻi, an island in Hawaii with a nickname "Chinaman's Hat"
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The term "mandarin" is ...[applied]... only to those who are entitled to wear a "button," which is a spherical knob, about an inch in diameter, affixed to the top of the official cap or hat
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