Non Bai Tho, the traditional Vietnamese conical hat is crafted with poems weaved into the design and viewed when held up to the light. Similar, but without the poem, are Non La. These practical lightweight hats and often worn in Hue and virtually everywhere else outside Hanoi and Saigon. Spend a day on a river in the Mekong Delta and you'll understand why! A Non La is great protection from sun and rain.
The hat is creatively made from leaves, the simple materials of nature. These young leaves are brought from the softest trees and are exposed to the dew for one night so when dried, it is still soft enough to be flattened. The hat usually consists of 16 to 18 rims made from a special kind of bamboo. These rims are shaped thinly into conical-form. The leaves are sewn into all rims solely by hand. Finally, the hat is trimmed and painted with a coat of attar old to keep it clean, smooth, and water-proof.
The hat elegantly enhances the sentimental attractiveness of Vietnamese girls because they are mysteriously hidden, showing only their shy blush cheeks and long hair beneath the broad rims of the non la.
The leaf hat is not only a symbol of Vietnamese girls, but has also become part of the spirit of Vietnam, the nation.