Distinctive Culture of Hue revealed in Phu Cam Conical Hat Village

Published:  09:30 Tuesday - December 06, 2011

Lying on the southern bank of the An Cuu River in the centre of the former imperial capital of Hue, hat-making village Phu Cam is famous for its traditional way of making conical hats. Since hundreds of years, Hue conical hat has become an integral part of Hue culture.

Phu Cam conical hat or Hue conical hat has not only a beautiful form but also modest color. It is light and so thin that light seems to pierce through it. Through natural light, visitors in Vietnam travel can see Hue landscapes with verses engraved on paper placed between two layers of leaves.  

Phu Cam-made hats look graceful, soft and thin as silk. Hue landscapes or even poems can be seen clearly through the hats in the sunshine. It takes woman much time to make the frame and iron leaves before young girls start sewing. The beauty and grace of a hat depend much on the frame (made of 16 brims from the hem to the top). Artisans use sharp knives to prepare the brims and make the frame that needs skills, techniques and experiences, as well as mathematical calculations which have been handed down for generations.

Leaves to make hat play a vital part, leaves have to be blue-white, neither too young nor too old. Collected leaves are to be put to dry in the sun, put to be moistened by dewdrops, and then to be ironed flat on a steel- plank above a kiln, cleaned with a towel. After all this, leaves are cut to fit the frame.

It is not easy to arrange the leaves on to the frame. Each hat needs 50 leaves and between the leaves are colored papers with pictures or paintings of landscapes, or even poems. Hat-makers are hardworking and careful and diligent. Hats are served with silk-threads and the chin-straps are made of colored silk (black, white, yellowish, purple, violet, etc) to harmonize with Hue climate and beauty.

Poem-hat or “Non bai tho” is a distinctive feature of culture in Hue. Locals say they like to do the job not only to earn money but to preserve their age-old tradition as poem-hats have been absorbed into folk music and songs. Today hats are still used by young girls to shade their heads in the sun and to make them look more graceful in the traditional long dress “Ao Dai.”

Therefore, when visiting Phu Cam village, tourists joining tours in Vietnam will have a chance to know more about how to make a Hue conical hat- an integral part of Hue’s culture.

Vietnam Tourism- Vietnam Travel Agency

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