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Non La - Vietnamese's Famous Conical Hat

Date Submitted: 18/09/2021 - 53,468 - view

Non la (palm-leaf conical hat) is a traditional symbol of Vietnamese people without age, sex or racial distinctions.

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Like many other traditional Vietnamese costumes, the conical hat has its own origin, derived from a legend related to Vietnam's history of wet rice cultivation. The story is about a giant woman from the sky who protected humanity from a heavy rain. She wears a hat made of four round leaves to withstand any rain. After the Goddess was gone, the Vietnamese built a temple to commemorate her as the Goddess of Rain.

Vietnamese tried to make a hat modelling after the Goddess' by stitching together palm leaves, which is now known as Non la. The image of Non la has become strongly associated with peasant lives from the paddy field to boat men and women.

Non la is made from simple and readily available materials such as palm leaves, wood bark and bamboo. Non la is sold a lot and there are many traditional craft villages where visitors can get high quality conical hats. For example, Chuong village - 30km southwest of Hanoi, is famous for its handmade conical hats for centuries. Especially the poem conical hat - a famous hat of Hue, with the image of bamboo or lyrical lines under the sunken layers of bamboo leaves.

Non la has many variations sinc its original version thousands of years ago after making first appearance over 3000 years ago. According to the old, in the past, people divided Non la into three main types: Non muoi (or ‘Non ba tam’, ‘Non quai thao’), medium-sized hat and head-hat. Non la used to be flat and round, about 1 metre in diameter, with a chin-strap in rattan (Non quai thao). Non quai thao is a crucial accessory of countryside women when they go to festivities or pagodas and as well as female singers in Lim festival (Bac Ninh). Head-hat is the smallest one with lowest selvage. At that time, people also classified the hats according to the owners’ levels. Some kinds were for the old; some were for the rich and mandarins; Non for kids, troops and monks. Each kind has its own shape and special manner; sometimes it differs regionally from each other.

Non la can serve many uses such as personal sunshade, shopping basket for women, plowman's fan on hot summer days, or even a souvenir to remember. The image of a young woman wearing ao dai and ao dai is a beautiful symbol of Vietnam; Non la is also an object as a part of the national soul closely attached to Vietnamese people, so many tourists enjoy considering Non la as a special souvenir of Vietnam.

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