For a very long time, the image of young women with “non la” (conical hats) and ao dai (Vietnamese gown) has become a symbol of Hue people and Hue tourism. To see how conical hats are made and to learn more about the culture and people of Hue, you should visit a conical hat making village.
Conical hat making has been a traditional trade in Hue for hundreds of years, with many craft villages like Da Le, Phu Cam, Doc So, Trieu Tay, Kim Long, Sia … Among them, Tay Ho is the most prominent name because it is the place of origin of the non la in Hue. Tay Ho Village is located on the bank of the Nhu Y River, in Phu Ho commune, Phu Vang District, 12 km from Hue City.
A simple conical hat is made after 15 stages, from going to the forest to collect leaves to clean and dry leaves, iron leaves, select leave, making frames, etc.
Young leaves of the tree named “Bo Qui Diep” are collected from the forest. The leaves are then exposed to mist, dried and ironed. The next step is making a frame from 16 small bamboo splints. After that leaves will attached to the frame. This stage is called “cham,” which is usually made by young girls.
Hue’s conical hats are famous thanks to this stage. Hue’s conical hats always have two layers of leaves. Craftsmen must be very skillful to make the two layers very thin. After this stage, the hats will be covered by oil and dried under the sun.
To make the conical hats more special, craftsmen add paintings of Hue and poems between the two layers of leaves, creating “non bai tho” (poetic conical hats). Conical hats have become indispensable gifts from Hue.
To buy Tay Ho’s conical hats, visitors can go to Da Le market in Thuy Van Commune, Huong Thuy District. Though all big and small markets in Hue like Dong Ba, An Cuu and Ben Ngu have conical hats, Da Le is more attractive because this market sells only one product – conical hats and materials to make conical hats.