Asian conical hat – Wikipedia

Cone-shaped hat worn in various parts of Asia

The Asian conical hat, commonly known as an Asian rice hat, or just rice hat (particularly in the US), coolie hat or Chinese hat (in the UK), chinaman’s hat (Australia), oriental hat, or farmer’s hat, is a simple style of conically shaped sun hat originating in East, South and Southeast Asia; and notable in modern-day nations and regions of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, parts of Outer Manchuria, Taiwan, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, and Vietnam.

It is kept on the head by a cloth (often silk) or fiber chin strap.

Asian conical hats are, throughout Asia, primarily used as a form of protection from the sun and rain. When made of straw or other woven materials, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative cooling device.[1] It is also widely understood in East Asia, most notably Japan, where they were known as kasa, as a symbol of Buddhism, as it is traditionally worn by pilgrims and Buddhist monks in search of alms. Sturdier, even metal, variants, known as jingasa (battle kasa), were also worn by samurai and footsoldiers in Japan, as helmets.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, the salakot is more commonly a pointed dome-shape, rather than conical, with a spike or knob finial. Unlike most other mainland Asian conical hats, it is characterized by an inner headband in addition to a chinstrap. It can be made from various materials including bamboo, rattan, nito, bottle gourd, buri straw, nipa leaves, pandan leaves, and carabao horn. The plain type is typically worn by farmers, but nobles in the pre-colonial period (and later principalia in the Spanish period) crafted ornate variations with jewels, precious metals, or tortoiseshell. These are considered heirloom objects passed down from generation to generation within families.[2][3]

The salakot was also commonly worn by native soldiers in the Spanish colonial army. It was adopted by Spanish troops in the early 18th century as part of their campaign uniform. In doing so, it became the direct precursor of the pith helmet (still called salacot or salacco in Spanish and French).[4]

In Vietnam, the nón lá, nón tơi (“hats”), nón gạo (“rice hat”), nón dang (“conical hat”) or nón trúc (“bamboo hat”) forms a perfect right circular cone which tapers smoothly from the base to the apex. Special conical hats in Vietnam contain colourful hand-stitch depictions or words while the Huế varieties are famous for their nón bài thơ (lit. poem conical hats). These contain random poetic verses and Chữ Hán which can be revealed when the hat is directed above one’s head in the sunlight. In modernity, they have become part of Vietnam’s national costume.[5]

In China, it was typically associated with farmers, while mandarins wore tighter circular caps, especially in the winter.[6]

Similarly in India and Borneo, the plain conical hat was worn by commoners during their daily work, but more decoratively-colored ones were used for festivities. In Sabah, the colorful conical hat is worn for certain dances while in Assam they are hung in homes as decoration or worn by the upper classes for special occasions.[citation needed]

Regional names[edit]

English terms for the hat include sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, bamboo hat and sometimes coolie hat.[7] Note, however, that coolie is often considered a derogatory racial slur.[8][9]

In South-east Asia, it is known as do’un (ដួន) in Cambodia; caping in Indonesia; koup (ກຸບ) in Laos; terendak in Malaysia; งอบ​ in Thailand; khamauk (ခမောက်) in Myanmar; salakot, sarok, sadok, s’laong, hallidung, kallugong, and tabungaw among other names in the Philippines; and nón lá in Vietnam.[citation needed]

In East Asia it is called dǒulì (斗笠, literally meaning a “one-dǒu bamboo hat”) in China; kasa () in Japan; and satgat (삿갓) or gaerip (개립, 蓋笠) in Korea.[citation needed]

In South Asia, it is known as jaapi (জাপি) in Assam (India); in Bangladesh it is known as mathal (মাথাল).[10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Conical Hats”. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  2. ^ Peralta, Jesus T. (2013). Salakot and Other Headgear (PDF). National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) & Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP), UNESCO. p. 232.
  3. ^ Nocheseda, Elmer I. “The Filipino And The Salacot”. Tagalog Dictionary. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Antón, Jacinto (December 5, 2013). “La romántica elegancia de Salacot”. El País. Archived from the original on April 3, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2018 – via
  5. ^ “Vietnamese Costumes: Non toi”.
  6. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Mandarin” . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 558–559, see page 558, lines 3 to 5. The term “mandarin” is …[applied]… only to those who are entitled to wear a “button,” which is a spherical knob, about an inch in diameter, affixed to the top of the official cap or hat
  7. ^ “Coolie hat – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”.
  8. ^ “Definition of COOLIE”. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  9. ^ “Definition of coolie |”. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  10. ^ “Bamboo Craft”. Banglapedia.

External links[edit]