Conical hat village
A journey to remember
When you think of Vietnam, one of the first cultural icons to spring to mind would have to be the famed conical hat. And at Chuong Village near Hanoi, young and old alike know how to meticulously assemble the symbolic headwear.
Palm tree leaves from the Thanh Hoa region are brought into the Chuong Village and on set days of the month at the market the villagers will only trade in these leaves. They make for a spectacle arranged around the village’s commanding well, to be scrutinized by the artisans.
The artisans, in turn, take the carefully selected leaves home to separate them, throw them into a tumbler filled with sand to take all the humidity out of the leaves, and place them into an oven and then hang them out to further dry.
And yet the process is far from over. They then separate the dried, wrinkled leaves into thinner strands, ironing them on a stone to flatten them. Finally, the artisans fix the strands onto the cone-shaped bamboo frame, securing the entire ensemble with refined stitching.
On sale at the night market, the final product waits to protect its future owner from the elements. Or it may even become a lamp shade, with the younger generation continuing tradition in a different guise by incorporating the
hat’s distinctive shape into home décor.