Nón lá, Vietnamese traditional leaf hats

3 years ago 11644

Leaf hats (means “nón lá” in Vietnamese) are traditional headwears of East Asia and Southeast Asia such as Japan, Laos, China, Thailand, etc. And Vietnam is one of these. Due to characteristics of tropical monsoon climate zone with two seasons: sunny season and rainy season, from the early days, leaf hats had been used popularly as useful items for either sun or rain blocking in daily life of the ancient Vietnamese.

The carved image of the precursor of known conical leaf hat today was found in the ancient Ngoc Lu bronze drum (“Trống đồng Ngọc Lũ”) and Dao Thinh bronze jar (“Thạp đồng Đào Thịnh”) which aged of 2500-3000 years old. Through the ages, there were many applied modifications in shapes and materials of the original one. At first, it was a kind of woven leaf hat. Since the introduction of needle (3th century BC), sewing method has been applied in leaf hats making until today. According to many documents, people believe that conical leaf hats had appeared in Vietnam around the 13th century of Tran Dynasty.

Vietnamese leaf hats have a long history. There are many types of leaf hats in Vietnam through the development progress but the conical leaf hat is the most popular, famous and recognized image of Vietnam in the worldwide.  Therefore, the term of “nón lá”  is commonly refered to this kind of leaf hat. 

 "Nón lá" (Nonla or Conical Leaf Hat) , a recognized image of Vietnam in the worldwide.

“Nón dấu”, a kind of conical cane hat for soldiers in Le – Nguyen Dynasty with the top is made of bronze.

“Nón gò găng” or “Nón ngựa”(from Binh Dinh Province), palm leaf hat with silver top, just for rich gentlemen wearing while riding horses.   

“Nón quai thao” or “nón ba tầm” or “nón mười”, headwear of southern women in the old days. Nowadays, this kind of palm leaf hat only appears in art performances or Quan Ho Singing ("Hát Quan Họ").  

“Nón bài thơ” (Poem leaf hat), originating from Hue, a special version of leaf hat with hidden poems or image in the inner layers of leaves.  

Throughout the three regions of the country, from the southern, the central to the northern, there are many known areas for leaf-hat-making such as Lai Chau (Thai ethnic group’s products), Cao Bang (ones made by Tay ethnic group), Thanh Hoa, Quang Binh (Ba Don leaf hat,) Binh Dinh (Go Gang leaf hat), Hue (poem leaf hat), or Ha Tay (Chuong Village’s leaf hats).

Making conical leaf hats in Chuong Village ("Làng Chuông")

Nowadays, despite of the development of technology, “nón lá” is still hand-made by talented and skillful craftsmen. Besides the process to form the hat, artists often combine with exquisite decoration for a more elegant completed product.   “Nón bài thơ” (poem leaf hat) is consider as the most sophisticated one. Poems or images are hidden in the inner layer of leaves which only appear as sunlight goes through the hat.

Charming of Vietnamese lady on Hue leaf hat.

It is also a favorite souvenir of many foreign visitors to Vietnam. 

In modern life today, “nón lá” is no longer widely used in daily life as before.  But it still plays an important meaning to generations of Vietnamese as the recognized symbol the country. “Nón lá” leaves its mark in many national and international cultural events.

 Beautiful combination of “Nón lá” and “Áo dài” in the Hats Dance (“Điệu múa nón”). 

Random Destination



Exchange Rates 3/20/2019

Did you know?

Hue Ancient Capital Monuments Complex has been recognized as the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1993.