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What is a Conical Hat?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A conical hat is a hat consisting of one or more pieces of material and shaped, as the name suggests, generally like a cone. While a conical hat may be made of a single piece of material that is rolled into a cone shape and held together with some form of binding, they may also be made of many pieces woven or bound together to form a cone shape. Hats of this shape have seen use for thousands of years in vastly different cultures and across many continents. Modern usage of conical hats is typically seen in Eastern Asian and Southern Asian countries such as Japan, Vietnam, China and the Koreas.

Particularly narrow or acute conical hats were seen throughout much of the ancient world, from Greece to Babylon and Egypt. An acute conical hat is typically rather tall and comes to a sharp point above the wearer’s head. These types of hats have been found in burial chambers and depicted in a number of ancient works of art. Such hats remain in modern usage primarily as ceremonial garments and are not usually seen in daily use.

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This type of acute conical hat can still be seen in portrayals of older classrooms where a misbehaving student might be made to wear a “dunce cap.” Some stereotypical portrayals of witches or wizards in mainstream media or for Halloween costumes will also often have a hat or cap with an acutely conical shape. Members of the Ku Klux Klan also wear hoods that are shaped in an acutely conical way, and such negative association has led to little use of similar shaped headwear in the United States (US).

The other typical form of conical hat is one that is pointed at an obtuse angle that makes it more similar to a wide-brimmed hat than the other form. These types of hats are most often seen in Southern Asian or Eastern Asian countries and may be worn by people of all walks of life. Obtuse conical hats are usually made from many pieces of straw with a piece of cloth that straps under the chin to hold the hat on the wearer’s head. A similar piece of cloth is also placed within the top of the hat in a ring to keep the hat itself from actually resting on the wearer’s head.

This type of hat is typically simple to make and ideal for working or walking outdoors for long periods of time. The wide angle of the hat keeps both sun and rain away from the wearer as the shape of the hat causes it to act like a small umbrella. On especially hot days, the hat can also be submerged in water before wearing to keep the wearer cool by acting as an effective evaporative-cooling system.

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