Over the past 300 years, local people in Phu Gia village have been keeping and developing their traditional conical-hat-making handicraft, highlighting the cultural identity of Binh Dinh province.
This couple spent more than half of their lifetimes on making horse conical hats (in Vietnamese: “Nón ngựa”) in Phu Gia village, Cat Tuong commune, Phu Cat district, Binh Dinh province. Video: Phong Vinh.
Horse conical hats are the pride of the Binh Dinh community. They appeared over 300 years ago, were indispensable accessories of imperial officials. According to Mr. Do Van Lan (a Phu Gia villager), who had over-55-year experience in making horse conical hats, said that no one knew exactly who was the first person to invent the hat.
There are 10 main steps and 4 auxiliary steps to make a hat. “Sometimes, we need to tailor particular patterns according to customers’ orders. Therefore, embroidering patterns is the most time-consuming step.” said Mr. Lan.
To make one complete horse conical hat, we need three main materials: bamboos (for making hoops and frames), palm leaves (for covering the hat, also known as the roof), and pineapple roots (for threats). Thanks to favorable natural conditions, these materials are all available in Binh Dinh.
Other essential materials are embroidery threads, small nylon threads, large nylon threads,… taken from Ho Chi Minh city. Mrs. Tam (Mr. Lan’s wife) with over 40 years in tailoring shared that making horse hats required a lot of time, effort, and various elaborate steps.
Artists usually embroider patterns on the hat such as flowers, leaves, peacock, dragon, turtle, bird,… The top of the hat is not fully covered with leaves, people decorate with a five-colored pom-pom instead. Special hats feature an iron lozenge-shaped cover on top which is made from copper or silver and has elaborately carved patterns.
A horse conical hat of Phu Gia village has the price varying from VND 50.000 to VND 100.000, depending on its quality. Traditional prototype ones can cost more than VND 400.000 each.
Phu Gia hat-making village is among 5 traditional craft villages zoned by the provincial People’s Committee in association with tourism development. Therefore, for several years, this craft village has become more and more well-known to visitors, the income of locals making hats has improved better.
From Quy Nhon city center to Phu Gia village, you can move along the 1A route, turn right to the 19B route, go further 18 km then turn left to the DT635 route. In there, you need to ask locals to show you the way to Phu Gia village.