We’ve previously covered the origins and evolution of the conical hats of Asia – noting that these were used in China, Japan, Vietnam and even the Philippines. In past articles we’ve also explored how these were used by colonial military forces, including the Hong Kong Police under British rule.
One other important use of these wicker/straw hats/helmets was during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century and even early 20th century when these were used in its Imperial Army. These were the de facto headdress for the Imperial Chinese Army Infantry until it took on a more western influenced appearance.
This style of hat was used by Imperial Chinese Army forces in the Taiping Rebellion, the First Sino-Japanese War and the Boxer Rebellion.
This particular style of conical hat could accurately be called a “helmet” as it is produced in a way that would provide some protection from blows the head. It is constructed via a weave pattern that provides strength and rigidity – unlike other conical hats that merely provide protection from the sun and weather. In this regard it is close in design and structure to the salacots of the Philippines.
As China suffered under a brutal civil war, invasion during World War II and then the so-called “cultural revolution” few of these rare and unique hats/helmets have sadly survived. These remain an interesting item from the late Qing Dynasty as it sought to maintain its independence from outside invasions by clinging too much to the past.