Yale Vietnamese Studies Group 2006-2007
Graduate Moderator :
Haydon Cherry

Undergraduate Moderator:
William Nguyen

Tuesday, November 14
Thu Huong Nguyen Thi, PhD, Director, Center for Pre-Doctoral Training, Hue University, Vietnam
"Conical Hat in Vietnamese Cultural Life"

It should be deficient if we talk about Vietnamese culture without mentioning the conical hat. Together with the charming Ao dai, the conical hat used to be considered as an authentic criterion, a symbol of beauty, and a part of national cultural spirit. Vietnamese conical hat is diversified and various. It is one of the unique features to make Vietnamese culture a rich and colourful one. Conical hat is not only a multipurposed object but also promotes the charm and elegance of Vietnamese girls. It is also a mirror to reflect the conditions and positions of its owner in the society. Vietnamese conical hat is various in materials, in shape, in name or in the reflection of social backgrounds. Besides the function as a shelter to protect people from the sun, wind and rain, the conical hat also reflects the social classification. In everyday life, conical hat is an indispensable object. Because of its popularity and convenience, the conical hat is used for different purposes. It can be used as a shelter from the sun and the rain, as a fan, or even as a water dipper. Another function of the conical hat that should not be missed is that it makes Vietnamese girls becomes milder, more elegant and delicate. In different situations such as ceremonies, festivals, parties or in working conditions, the conical hat has different equivalent shapes. Because of specific characteristics in geography, culture and traditional custom, each region in Vietnam has its own unique conical hat going with different costume. Moreover, in modern time, the people's needs are different than those in the past, thus, the conical hat does not remain its inherent elegance and purity but greatly changes. The fact that this cultural beauty should be restored and preserved is an urgent issue, and it requires not only the responsibility of the governments of all levels, but also the awareness of Vietnamese people.

Tuesday, January 16
Raymond Burghardt, former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam; Director of East-West Seminars, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii