Preserving traditional Vietnamese conical hats
It is difficult to make sure when the Chuong villagers began crafting the hats. The elderly said that the craft has been handed down through generations in the village for over three hundreds of years.
In the past, the village ancestors made various kinds of conical hats: flat conical hats, medium hats, basket hats, flat palm hats with fringes, etc. But with changes in market demand, these kinds of hats became unsuitable, and in the 1930s, the white palm hats appeared, then became quickly popular and continue to be so until today. This kind of hat is not as ornate as the ones of the old days and is made efficiently.
Chuong village artisans make efforts to handing down the longstanding tradition to younger generations. (Photo: cinet.vn)
The main material for making conical is palm leaf. The Chuong villagers have to choose the white shoots from the northern Province of Phu Tho or Noi leaf from the Central Province of Ha Tinh. Bamboo hammocks and conical hats must be imported from other provinces.
Making a hat, a painstaking process requires not only the makers’ talent but also their experience. The first step is massaging the palm leaves by foot in the sand. After massaging the leaves for 20 minutes, the villagers start to open up leaves and then take them to dry under the sun.
The palm leaves are dried everywhere in the village, from dykes to people’s yards on sunny days. Under the scorching sun, the green leaves turn into silvery white. When the leaves are ready, the villagers stretch them. Ironing the palm leaves is the most important step in the process. The craftsmen iron the leaves under a heated ploughshare to make flatten and harden them.
The frame of the hat is made from bamboo, which is light and durable. The frame with 16 rounds of needling, is covered by a layer of palm leaves. And then, craftsmen spread over the frame. Next layers are also arranged meticulously, skillfully. After that, the makers sew hats to tighten all layers of leaves and decorated their products with silk thread. Finally, the hat is lightly coated with oil of turpentine to avoid being mouldy in damp or rainy weather.
Conical hats of Chuong village are now available in every part of the country and exported to China, Japan and European countries. Thanks to efforts by Chuong village artisans, the craft of hat making will be preserved into the future.
An attractive suburb tourist site
The market of Chuong conical hat village (photo: cinet.vn)
Situated on the bank of Day river, Chuong is a ancient village in the northern rural areas. Hundred years have been passing, but the image of conical hat has still attached to the grateful Vietnamese girls and women. To witness the conical hat making, foreign visitors can join the Ha Noi Day Trip to visit and explore Chuong conical hat village and Bat Trang ceramic village for a full day tour. It is expected that you will get a lot of interesting experiences, skills of traditional crafts when you take part in the market of Chuong conical hat village.
The market opens on the 4th, 10th, 14th, 20th, 24th and 30th of lunar months. Only one product is traded – conical hats. Not only see they selling white conical hat, you will directly try how they make a normal conical hat.
Thanks to handing down the longstanding tradition to younger generations, the Chuong villagers are proud of preserving the image of Vietnamese traditional conical hats and promoting them to Vietnamese and international visitors.