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The conical Asian hat (also known as a sedge hat, rice hat, coolie hat or paddy hat) is a simple style of conical hat originating in East and Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea. This style of hat is used primarily as protection from the sun and rain, and is usually kept on the head by a cloth (often silk) chin strap; an internal band of the same material keeps the hat itself from resting on the wearer's head. While anybody can wear the hats, they are primarily worn by women who work on farms or in fields for hours on end.[1] Although in Korea, they are primarily worn by Buddhist monks.

However, Hollywood and the general media seems to forget this last fact. So in fiction, there are many Asian characters who wear conical hats...simply because they're Asian. Regardless of whether or not it makes sense for the character to be wearing such a hat, if they are Asian, they will be seen wearing one to allow viewers to recognize that they are in fact an Asian character.

A related trope is Lampshade-Wearing: for a long time, in any remotely comedic western work, if a character was left in a room with a conical lampshade, you could almost guarantee that he would try it on and imitate a Chinese accent.

See also: All Asians Know Martial Arts

Examples of All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats include:


Advertising

  • American Apparel recently came under fire for advertising and selling "Ching Chong hats" that were, you guessed it, Asian conical hats.
    • Offensive name aside, these hats are popular with professional concert-goers (read: American Apparel customers) at multi-day outdoor music festivals for their lightweight shading qualities.

Anime

  • Kibagami Jubei of Ninja Scroll fame often wears one.
  • Enma Ai from Hell Girl is shown wearing one occasionally as part of her civilian clothes during flashbacks to the Feudal era.
  • The Akatsuki from Naruto have these, though they don't wear them all the time.
  • Jin-e from Rurouni Kenshin wears one.
  • Chichiri from Fushigi Yuugi has one, which also gives him the ability to get out of bad situations via magic. Miaka tries this, and fails.
  • Out of the Asian characters in Axis Powers Hetalia, only Vietnam has been seen using one of these hats in canon.

Film

  • Kirk Lazarus wears one while pretending to be a farmer in Tropic Thunder.
  • Oliver Stone's Platoon depicted desperate, fleeing Vietnamese in rice paddy hats.
  • Many early 'talkies' that depicted Asian countries and characters would feature Asian characters (usually played by white actors) wearing traditional "Asian looking" outfits, complete with these types of hats. Anna May Wong, being the first Chinese American movie star, was often foisted into these roles.
  • Averted in Mulan where only women working fields are seen wearing these types of hats.

Literature

  • In the Discworld, the wizard Rincewind is sent to the Agatean Empire in Interesting Times, where he discovers this is indeed true, and escapes pursuit by the simple means of donning such a hat and therefore looking indistinguishable from anyone else.

Live Action Television

  • Most Korean civilians in Mash, especially in the early seasons, wear rice hats.
    • The TV series was simply following the lead of the movie, where just about all the anonymous Korean civilians wear them, even though the style is specifically the Vietnamese form which was never common in Korea (the movie was specifically trying to make it look as much like the Vietnam war as possible).

Video Games

  • Mortal Kombat's Raiden wears a simple straw hat similar to that of a harvester's, while Ashrah wears a decorated Japanese kasa.
  • Final Fantasy X. Yojimbo, the sole samurai aeon, wears a large conical hat.
  • Brother 4 and Brother 6 from Afro Samurai.
  • Kenji from Battle Realms wears one in the first act of the game.
  • Available for your Xbox 360 avatar.
  • Worker units for east Asian civilizations in the Civilization IV expansion pack Beyond The Sword don the conical hats.
  • Canthan peasants in Guild Wars Factions.

Western Animation

  • Once again, Raiden, in Mortal Kombat Defenders of the Realm.
  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender owns one, though he rarely wears it.
    • Longshot, Zuko and Iroh also occasionally wear these hats.
  • On South Park, the entire Chinese dodgeball team wears these hats.
  • The Zen Master from Cars 2.
  • Crane from Kung Fu Panda.
  • Three For Breakfast ends with Donald Duck slipping onto some butter Chip and Dale spread onto the roof of his house while attempting to retrieve a rubber pancake the two chipmunks apparantly stole, causing him to fly back into his house and up the chimney, hitting his head on the chimney cone giving him the appearance of wearing a Chinese coolie hat. Chip then wears the rubber pancake on his head as if it were a coolie hat.
    • In another cartoon, Donald uses his vacuum to transport the chipmunks to China, and each time they return wearing coolie hats.
  • During the song "Everybody Wants to be a Cat" from The Aristocats, Shun Gon the Chinese cat actually hits himself on the head with a cymbal, giving him the appearance of wearing a coolie hat.
  • The caps on the mushrooms in "The Nutcracker" segment from Fantasia resemble coolie hats.
  • The eponymous hero of Samurai Jack often wears one of these.
  • Sensei Wu in Ninjago.

Notes

  1. It helps preserve the white in Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
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