In the traditional occupations of Vietnam, conical hat-making is said to have appeared very early in the nation's history and conical hats have almost become the symbol of the country. Currently, Hue conical hat is the only geographical indication of Vietnam's handicraft products that have been recognized by the National Office of Intellectual Property.
In Thua Thien Hue, there are many famous hat villages such as Doc So, My Lam, Dong Di, La Y, Nam Pho, Phu Cam, and Tay Ho...; Famous poetic conical villages include Dong Di, Tay Ho, and Phu Cam. According to statistics, up to now, Hue city has about 900 households making conical hats with nearly 2,000 employees. Phong Dien, Quang Dien, Phu Vang, Huong Tra, and Huong Thuy districts have a total of 1,984 households with nearly 2,500 employees.
Hue conical hat inherits the reasonable elements of all kinds of hats, from the royal court to the folk, from the North to the South to create their own products in this land.
Sources of leaf materials for Hue conical hat craft: A Luoi, Nam Dong, Huong Tra, especially in Nam Dong. Cone leaves are exploited at the age of young leaves, but not too young and large enough to have a leaf length and leaf surface width qualified for a cone. Properly exploited conical leaves are the young leaves that have not yet spread out, the leaves are still white, not green, and over 40cm long.
The preliminary processing of Hue conifer leaves is quite complicated, requiring certain skills, the most important of which are the techniques of leaf pedaling, leaf drying, and leaf incubation. After a number of stages such as sorting, removing bad leaves, and tying bunches of 10 leaves at a time, people kick the leaves with their feet until the leaves are soft, then the conical leaves are put into drying by a brazier. Thoroughly crush the leaves on one side to make the leaves soft, on the other hand, to ensure that the leaves will ripen evenly when put into drying.
During the drying process, ensure that the oven's temperature is stable between 42 and 45 degrees, and the leaves must be rotated frequently to dry evenly without being too brittle, scorched or burnt, or discolored. To have a moderate temperature, the fuel used for the kilns is card charcoal - a type of charcoal that is stewed from the bark of trees, without using other types of charcoal from solid woods because they have too high a temperature. The steps in the process and technique of each step in the leaf drying process need to be strictly followed, including some special secrets of the kilns so that the leaves after drying still retain their natural color of the leaves. Drying conical leaves with charcoal without using bleaching chemicals is the most basic difference in the preliminary processing of conical leaves in Hue compared to other localities.
People often call the profession of making conical hats the profession of "sewing conical hats", although "sewing conical hats" is just one stage in the production process of a conical hat. The process of conical hating consists of 9 steps: (1) opening the leaves, (2) ironing the leaves, (3) selecting the leaves, (4) adding the skeleton, (5) adjusting the leaves, (6) sewing, (7) adding the rims, (8) oiling, and (9) finishing.
It can be seen that the hat-making process with many stages requiring meticulousness and ingenuity of the workers to have a beautiful Hue conical hat has made a difference to the products.