Vietnamese conical hat, also called “Nón Lá”, is an item used to block the sun, rain, fan and is a typical symbol of Vietnam. It’s closely associated with the Vietnamese people, no gender discrimination, age, status … There are many types of conical hats such as horse hats or Go Gang hats (made in Binh Dinh, made from pineapple leaves, often used when riding a horse head), sport hats (people from Northern Vietnam often use at festivals), hats poem (in Hue, a thin and white leaf-shaped cone with some ornate verses)…but the most common is still a conical cone.
The texture of a conical hat
Perhaps most Vietnamese people from rural to urban areas use “Nón Lá”, but few people pay attention to the structure of the conical hat like what the cone is made of; how many rims and leaves it has; how wide is the glass …
Today’s conical hats usually consist of 16 rings made of small, uneven bamboo. The diameter of the bottom of the cone is about 41cm.
Leaf cones are roofed with 2 to 3 layers of leaves depending on the purpose. For example, the Hue hat uses only two layers of leaves to make the cone slender and to insert internal scenes and verses. The conical hat is made of 3 inner layers will have a leaf lining to make the hat more durable.
Outside the hat, people also apply more varnish. This oil is usually turpentine mixed with alcohol so that a clear color is applied to the cone to give the cone a shine and prevent water from seeping through the needle holes into the cone.
When the hat is complete, people attach to the top of the hat a “mango” made of polished thread to add charm to the conical hat.
In addition, inside the hat, people also make hats on both sides to tie strings. Hats can be tied or not depending on the purpose of use.
Materials and tools for making hats
Materials and tools for making hats include: leaves, threads and hat frames. The material of a cone is simple but hard to find. Leaves only grow in the mountains, later people bring seeds to plant in the garden.
The cone has a uniform pyramid shape, the wall is surrounded by rims that curl into many layers. Conical hat made of bamboo, round like a frame to support the graceful shape of the hat. At the bottom of the hat there is a curved rim, more rigid than the top hats. Conical hats, hard or brittle hats will determine the strength and durability of hats.
But the most important part of a hat is two layers of palm leaves – the main material to form a hat. Palm leaves must be young leaves, exposed very white. Lined between two layers of palm leaf layer is the core layer, dried, taken from bamboo and neohouzeaua. All materials to make the hat must be waterproof, easy to water to withstand heavy rain, hot and erratic sunny days.
To further enhance the charm, while holding the hat firmly on the wearer’s head, a soft silk strap is attached and two rings attached to the inside of the hat. The hat is woven with durable, beautiful silk threads. People can also decorate ethnic hats with bold patterns or apply a layer of luminous pine oil on the outside of the hat.
Although the conical hat is no longer a daily necessity for women in big cities, it is still very popular in Vietnamese villages. The image of a girl in a long dress and wearing a conical hat is characteristic for Vietnamese girls. Also, the hat becomes a souvenir of unique culture throughout Vietnam which is popular with tourists. Many visitors come to hat villages to witness and participate in the stages of hat making. Many people were really surprised and excited when the hat worker saved their photos and names on the poem hat as a souvenir.