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All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats
Even Asian gods wear them!

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 - all Asian countries have their own variation on it, and their own name for itnote  . 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, in China, they are primarily worn by women who work on farms or in fields for hours on end.note  And a variation of the conical straw hat which is painted in bright flourescent yellow can be seen by street cleaners in major Chinese cities. As late as 1950, and the fall of Hainan, this hat had military applications as it was pretty much the only standard-issue garment the Guomindang could afford to waterproof. The Communists on the other hand used Soviet-style waxed greatcoats and eschewed the 'backward' and 'feudal' image the hat conjured up (though none of their men actually got any until after they'd won the war and crushed all the labour-unions).

Farmers (especially rice workers) tend to wear them more often. Although in Korea, they are primarily worn by Buddhist monks.

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:

Advertising
  • American Apparel in 2011 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

Film
  • Most films depicting the Viet Cong will have some of them wearing these hats. This is Truth in Television: many Viet Cong disguised themselves as farmers before ambushing the Americans.
  • Big Trouble in Little China has David Lo Pan's three henchmen, the Storms, all wear HUGE straw hats.
  • 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.
  • A lot of the background extras who are Asian in Blade Runner (and there are a lot as the Japan Takes Over the World trope is quite prominent) wear conical hats. Apparently, this was to protect against acid rain, although the fact that only the Asian extras wear them makes it seem like they just used them so people could be identified as Asian on crowded streets.
  • Lord Raiden from the Mortal Kombat movie has one on when he visits Liu Kang's Shaolin temple near the beginning of the film.
  • In The Man with the Golden Gun, Sheriff J.W. Pepper refers to the people of Thailand as "pointy heads".
  • In the beginning of Good Morning Vietnam, the protagonist mistakenly believes that several women wearing these hats are the same woman, even though his guide corrects him. He doesn't care and starts chatting up the next one he sees.

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 TV
  • 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).
  • In Father Ted, Ted puts a loose lampshade on his head and impersonates a Chinese man by stretching his eyes. Unfortunately, some Chinese people from the Craggy Island Chinatown (which has been there "since last week"), see him. Hilarity Ensues.

Theater
  • The background character of the Chinese Cook in Zarkana.

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.
  • In Battle Realms this hat is worn by peasants in the Dragon and Serpent clans, and by Kenji during the early stages of the campaign.
  • 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.
  • Played with in the World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria. There are headgear items resembling conical hats that can be worn by player characters, and a number of pandaren NPCs wear them, but not all of them.
    • You can buy them as a faction reward from, fittingly, farmers.
  • The Jian Shan Di faction in E.Ψ.Ǝ.: Divine Cybermancy stylize their headquarters after a Shinto temple, and have Powered Armor reminiscent of Samurai armor. Their heavy armor sports a conical straw hat and a gas mask. Their leader's hat is topped by a pair of golden tigers.
  • The titular character from Dust: An Elysian Tail wears a satgat draped in ragged cloth lining. His ears stick out of the top of the hat, and he doesn't wear a chin strap to keep it on. Despite all the jumping and twirling he does in the game, the hat never actually comes off except in cutscenes. Fidget lampshades and openly wonders how Dust can see anything in front of him since the hat is always obscuring his eyes.

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.
    • Po as well, when he's not wearing a wok.
      • He even tries to use his hat for a throwing weapon during KFP2. It doesn't turn out well.
  • Three For Breakfast ends with Donald Duck slipping onto some butter Chip 'n Dale spread onto the roof of his house while attempting to retrieve a rubber pancake the two chipmunks apparently 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.

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