Nestled on the peaceful Lo River, Ren Village in Gia Thanh Commune, Phu Ninh District, Phu Tho Province, is famous for the traditional craft of conical hat making.
80% of local households in Ren village still practice the craft of conical hat making
The craft has been practiced by Ren villagers over a century, making it a highlight for both domestic and foreign visitors to the locality. The village was recognised as a traditional craft village by the provincial People’s Committee in 2005.
Currently, 80% of local households in the village still practice the craft, from children to elders.
According to elder Han Thi Bang, the Ren village-made conical hats are made from palm tree leaves, which are grown in the midlands of Phu Tho.
The selection of palm leaves plays a crucial role in the making of a beautiful conical hat, Bang said, adding that the leaves must be white-green with green veins.
After harvesting, the leaves are dried under charcoal rather than under sunlight, and let cool for two to four hours so that they will be softened. The craftsmen then flatten each leaf using a hot bun of fabric.
The craftsmen must be meticulous, skilful and experienced as each step is complicated, including stitching palm leaves on the conical ring, sewing colourful thread, and adding fringe hangings on both sides.
The conical hat is finally finished with a layer of oil to improve durability and waterproofing.
As the making process has up to 10 steps, it takes a veteran craftsman a whole day to complete a conical hat. A Ren Village-made conical hat is priced from VND50,000 to VND60,000.