Asian conical hat

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Vietnamese style conical hat, nón lá

The Asian conical hat is a simple style of conical hat originating in East, South, and Southeast Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, parts of Russian Manchuria and Vietnam.

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

Practical uses[edit]

This style of hat is used primarily as protection from the sun and rain. When made of straw or matting, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative-cooling device.[1]

In the Philippines, the plain type is typically worn by farmers, but nobles crafted an ornate variation with jewels or made of turtle shells and a spike on top. It was worn by native soldiers, particularly Tagalogs, Kapampangans, and Ilocanos of the Spanish Colonial Army during the later years of Spanish colonial period.

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.

In China, it was typically associated with farmers, while mandarins wore tighter circular caps, especially in the winter.[2]

Regional names[edit]

English terms for the hat include sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, bamboo hat, and sometimes coolie hat.[3]

In Chinese, it is called dǒulì (斗笠), literally meaning a "one-dǒu bamboo hat", (笠帽, 竹笠). It is known as sugegasa (菅笠?) in Japan, do'un in Cambodia, and caping in Indonesia. In Korea, the hat is called satgat (삿갓), a cognate of the Filipino saklat or salakot.

In South Asia, the conical hat has a similar look but doesn't form a perfect cone, as can be seen in the Assamese jaapi made of tightly woven bamboo and/or cane and tokou paat (Trachycarpus martianus). The Indonesian word caping likely derives from jaapi, although its appearance is the more typical cone shape.

In Vietnam, the name is nón lá (leaf hat). Images of it were embossed on Ngoc Lu drums about 2500 to 3000 years ago. Among conical hats, the nón lá of the Vietnamese people 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 (literally: 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. Today, it has become part of Vietnam's national costume.


Conical hat in Australia[edit]

As part of international one day cricket matches in Australia, the conical hat has been a fashion phenomenon amongst spectators, with many decorated in Australian green and gold livery. Given that spectators are exposed for long periods in direct sunlight, the conical hat is a logical sunsafe device.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Conical Hats". Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition. New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 1910. p. 173. 
  3. ^ "Coolie hat - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 

External links[edit]