Covering our heads is common in many cultures. Christian women traditionally wore hats to go to church, many Muslim women wear headscarfs.
But it’s not just about religion. Traditional dress in many countries involves headgear, and some of the most colourful headwear I can recall seeing – in an everyday setting – is the dress of the Hmong people of northern Vietnam.
A couple of years ago, I travelled to Sapa and from there to the village of Bac Ha. There are many hilltribes in this region of Vietnam and most of the people at the markets were wearing traditional dress. Many of them were Flower Hmong people, known for their brightly coloured and embroidered costumes; others were Black Hmong people, who wear indigo-dyed hemp clothing. We saw clothing being dyed as we hiked in this area too, or hanging on lines to dry. Black Hmong costumes also feature embroidery.
I loved this colourful clothing, and the headwear – as so often happens – was often draped in different ways according to the wearers’ own fancy.
Thinking about this week’s “hats” travel theme from Where’s My Backpack? made me recall this fascinating experience at the Bac Ha Markets.