Once upon a time, the legend says, when a deluge of rain was falling there descended from the sky a giant woman wearing on her head four huge round leaves as large as the sky itself and stitched together by bamboo sticks. The leaves protected humankind, then still naked, from the rain. The giant messenger from the sky twirled round the leaves on her head to dispel clouds and rains. Those who followed her were taught by her how to grow crops. One day mankind dozed off as they listened to stories narrated by her. When they woke up the goddess was gone. The Vietnamese built a temple in her memory and honored her as the Rain-shielding Goddess. Following her example, people went into the forests to fetch broad and round leaves (palm) which they stitched together on a bamboo frame. This was to become an indispensable headwear for the farmers on the fields, boatwomen carrying passengers across rivers, travelers under the blazing sun…
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However, Vietnamese girls do not like just any conical hat they come upon. The dearest to them is inevitably the one called the “Poetical Leaf “for they become milder, more elegant and more delicate when once they put on a hat, which gives shelter to their blushing cheeks like a crowing bud protected from sun, rain or rough wind. Vietnamese women also use the conical hat to fan off the heat of summer, as a container for a bunch of vegetables, and even as a bowl to relieve the thirst when passing by a well, etc. Romantically, young couples can veil their kisses behind this traditional conical hat during their dates. [vietnam-culture.com]
The conical Asian hat, in Vietnam, the name is nón lá – leaf hat, sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat, and formerly known by the derogatory term coolie hat, is a simple style of conical hat originating in East and Southeast Asia, particularly China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam. It is kept on the head by a cloth (often silk) chin strap; an internal band of the same material keeps the hat itself from resting on the wearer’s head. 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. The images of its were embossed on Ngoc Lu drum about 2500-3000 years ago. [Wikipedia]