Brief History of Vietnamese Conical Hat

According to studies by scientists, the conical hat was born from 2500 - 3000 BC, the image was carved on the Ngoc Lu kettledrum and the Dao Thinh bronze jar. Looking back on history, it was around the 13th century during the Tran dynasty in Vietnam.

vietnamese conical hat

Artisans make the first conical hats

Due to the characteristic of a tropical climate with erratic weather, Vietnamese farmers immediately think about how to put leaves together to cover the sun and rain. Gradually this hat became a necessary item in daily life. Initially, the conical hat was made in a circular shape, later the cone. Vietnamese conical hats have a strong frame and a high aesthetic that creates charm for the users.

traditional Vietnamese conical hat

The image of a traditional Vietnamese conical hat

As I said, leaf hats are not only used to protect farmers from harsh weather, but also they represent modest and idyllic life. Therefore, in the old days, Vietnamese women often dressed Ao Dai with Non La to enhance feminine beauty. In this way, Vietnamese conical hats become a symbol of the people in general and Vietnamese women in particular.

One way that Vietnamese leaf hats become a meaningful gift for international tourists.

Vietnamese conical hat

Tourists are excited about Vietnamese conical hat

How does it make?

The materials for making conical hats are quite simple, it is only made from leaves such as palm, mortar, or bamboo, but to make a beautiful conical hat requires artisans to have elaborate and very skillful hands. A conical hat is made after 4 main stages, from collecting leaves to decorating in the conical hat-making process.

Vietnamese conical hat

Stage 1: Material Preparation

To create beautiful conical hats, the leaves have to be dried on a charcoal stove before making. Next, they are dew-dried to reduce stiffness. As far as I know, the product is nicer if the leaf is flattened a bit.

Stage 2: Making hat frames

The hat frame is made of dry and flexible bamboo yarns. They are bent into different-sized circles. The cone frame has about 16 bamboo yarn circles with the largest one up to 50 cm in diameter and the smallest one only equal to the size of a coin. Artisans arranged these circles from the largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top to cone form.

Stage 3: Roofing 

After making the frame, artisans arrange the leaves on top, this time requiring them to do it evenly so that the leaves do not overlap. Every hat will be covered with 2 leaf layers: the inner layer and the outer layer. Each conical hat has different thickness requirements, so it will be covered with 20-30 leaves. In that way, the artisans can create conical hats with unique character and beauty.

Stage 4: Completing

After the leaf layer has been completely covered, it will be securely sewn to the frame with nylon yarn. Afterward, the craftsman will apply a layer of varnish to increase the durability and aesthetics of the product.

Finally, a complete conical hat is indispensable with straps tied symmetrically on the sides. The straps of the conical hat are made from silk velvet with vibrant colors.

vietnamese conical hat

Non la enhances the beauty of Vietnamese women

There is more than just one style

Conical hats in Vietnam have many different types through each historical period: 

  1. Dau conical hat: hat has a spire, used by ancient soldiers. 

  2. Ngua conical hat (Horse conical hat): used for riding a horse.

  3. Rom conical hat ( Straw conical hat): it is made of straw.

  4. Quai Thao conical hat: used for festivals.

  5. Go conical hat: made of bamboo for ancient soldiers. 

  6. La Sen conical hat (Lotus leaf hat): it is made of lotus leaf.

  7. Thung conical hat: it looks like a basket. 

  8. Khua conical hat: used by the ancient maid.

  9. Chao conical hat (Pan conical hat) looks like a pan.

  10. Cap conical hat: used by the house of mourning. 

  11. Bai tho conical hat (Poem conical hat): it is thin, with a poem pattern on it.

kinds of Vietnamese conical hat

11 kinds of Vietnamese conical hat

Best places to buy Conical hats around Vietnam

Dong Xuan Market - Hanoi

Dong Xuan Market, also known as Big Market, is a large-scale market that has existed for hundreds of years. The market has 3 floors, each floor is a type of goods. There are many stalls selling other cultural products such as foods, silks, and jewelry. You can easily buy traditional conical hats on the first floor at affordable prices. 

  • Address: Dong Xuan Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

  • Opening time: 6 AM - 6 PM.

  • Price: 30.000VND (~1,28 USD) - 50,000VND (~2,13 USD).

vietnamese conical hat

Conical hat stall in Dong Xuan Market

Chuong Village - Hanoi

In the heart of Hanoi, the traditional craft Chuong Village appears with an ancient feature over time. When walking around Chuong Village, you will have the opportunity to see and experience the stages of the Non La making process that are passed down from cooper to cooper. 

  • Address: Phuong Trung Commune, Thanh Oai District, Hanoi.

  • Opening time: 4 AM - 8 AM on the 4th, 10th, 14th, 20th, 24th, and 30th of the Lunar calendar.

  • Price: 30.000VND (~1,28 USD) - 50.000VND (~2,13 USD).

making vietnamese conical hat

Artisans make Non la in Chuong village

Dong Ba Market - Hue

Dong Ba Market is the oldest traditional market in Hue. It has a full range of items from crafts, and souvenirs to gifts, food, or fashion items. The market is also a famous Hue’s attraction that both domestic and international tourists want to visit.

Similar to the Dong Xuan market, Dong Ba market has 3 floors. You can find Non La along with a thousand handicrafts on the 2nd floor. Conical hats in Hue City are famous and popular, so the cost of them here is quite high compared to many other places.  

  • Address: Tran Hung Dao Road, Phu Hoa Ward, Hue.

  • Opening time: 5 AM to 7 PM.

  • Price: 150.000VND (~ 6,39 USD) - 200.000VND (~ 8,52 USD).

buy vietnamese conical hat

Main gate of Dong Ba Market

Ben Thanh Market - Ho Chi Minh 

Ben Thanh Market is massive and there are 4 main gates: North, East, West, and South gates. Each market area sells the products. This place is famous for its diverse products and cuisine and you can buy conical hats in stalls in West Gate.  You will be surprised when talking to sellers here because they can communicate in more than 3 foreign languages.

  • Address: Le Loi Road, 1 District, Ben Thanh Ward Ho Chi Minh.

  • Opening time: 4 AM to 7 PM.

  • Price: 30.000VND (~ 1,28 USD) - 100.000VND (~4,26 USD).

vietnamese conical hat

Phu Gia Village - Binh Dinh

Ngựa (Horse) conical hat is made in the Phu Gia village aged more than 300 years. In the past, this hat was produced for the officials of the ancient court and the elite. They are often worn when riding horses so natives call the Horses hats until now.

If Hue's poetic hats that decorated charming landscapes underlined a girl's gentle and graceful characters, on the contrary, Phu Gia's conical hat symbolizes strength. The process of making hats here is unique and more sophisticated than others so the cost of products are expensive.

  • Address: Cat Tuong Commune, Phu Cat District, Binh Dinh.

  • Opening time: 6 AM - 7 PM.

  • Price: 400.000VND (~ 17,04 USD) - 500.000 VND (~ 21,30 USD) .

Phu Gia conical hats - vietnamese conical hat

Woman knitting Phu Gia conical hats

Expand your knowledge with our Travel guide to Vietnam for first timers!

Glad to see that you keep reading and discovering with me the wonder behind the history of Vietnamese conical hats, their making process, and the best places you can find it. I hope you can enjoy my sharing. If you have a chance to visit Vietnam, please refer to our best Vietnam package tour.