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Asian conical hat


The Asian conical hat, commonly known as an Asian rice hatcoolie hat (in the UK), or farmer’s hat, is a simple style of conical hat originating in East, South, and Southeast Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, parts of Russian Manchuria and Vietnam.

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

This style of hat is used primarily as protection from the sun and rain. When made of straw or matting, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative-cooling device.

Cultural notes

In the Philippines, the plain type is typically worn by farmers, but nobles crafted an ornate variation with jewels or made of turtle shells and a spike on top. It was worn by native soldiers, particularly Tagalogs, Kapampangans, and Ilocanos of the Spanish Colonial Army during the later years of Spanish colonial period.

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.

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

Suggested activities

Books/ Story time:

  • Explore different hats worn around the world. Use the book ‘Hats, Hats, Hats’ to start the conversation

Group/ Circle Time:

  • Encourage children to bring in their favourite hat from home – discuss where the hat came from, where it is used

Dramatic Play: 

  • Introduce asian food items in to your home corner area
  • Include cultural clothing in your home corner

Food and Cooking:

  • Offer chopsticks during mealtimes
  • Introduce asian foods in to your menu

Art and Craft:

  • Create your own Asian Conical Hats to celebrate Chinese New Year

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.