You may have seen it in movies and will see it via the locals of Southeast Asia during your visit to the region. The conical straw hat is certainly an iconic piece of headwear. It is a little bit of everything, it is a hat, a sun protector, a head cooler, a fan, a water scooper, a basket and for many, especially in Vietnam, it is a source of pride and a fashion statement.
The conical straw hat, sometimes called the rice hat or the coolie hat is a type of headgear originating in East and Southeast Asia. As mentioned before, it is a good way to protection the sun’s rays as well as a good tool for cooling off from the heat. The conical shape of the hat proves useful in blocking out the sun and protecting the eyes from the sun’s brightness. Wearers of the hat usually have a piece of cloth (or silk) in the hat itself to keep wearer cool as well as a chin strap to keep the headgear on their head.
No other country is more closely associated with the hat than Vietnam. In fact, it forms part of its national costume, known as the aodai. And in Vietnam, the hats are intricately designed, with poem verses, flower designs and oriental symbols decorating the headgear. Some of these patterns can only be seen if it is in direct sunlight.
Did you know something as simple as a hat has its own legends about its origins? According to Vietnamese folklore, a woman wore such a hat made of four round leaves knitted with bamboo a very long time ago. The weather always became favorable wherever she appeared. She also enlightened many people on farming methods and plantation of trees and vegetables. All of a sudden, she disappeared and ascended into the heavens. She then became recognized as a goddess and ever since, hats were made imitating hers to protect from the sunshine and rain, just like it did to her.
Although close in proximity, the countries of Southeast Asia are greatly diverse, except perhaps for the wearing and usage of the multi-purpose conical straw hat. With improved travel links, multi-country tours are a popular way to explore the ancient and modern wonders of the region. You will see an area rich in culture, history, historical monuments and friendly people. Be enthralled by the region.
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