Photo essay: Vietnam’s iconic non la hats

I respect the people I photograph. Respect is the most important element in establishing a relationship with the subjects of your pictures and is key to accessing their real life.

Short but sweet photo essay from Reuters Wider Image and Mexican-born photojournalist Jorge Silva focussing on the iconic Vietnamese cone hat.  

Currently based in Bangkok, Jorge Silva took these photos in Hoi An.  Famous for being laid back, full of old world charm and its historic centre which blends Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and French colonial architecture, Hoi An contrasts with the traffic and pollution found in other Vietnamese cities.  

Hoi An’s well-preserved state owes more to luck than design.  It was once a busy port whose importance dwindled after its river silted up; until tourists started arriving in the 1990s, that is. 

The iconic hats themselves, found in various forms throughout Southeast Asia, are made of materials such as palm leaves, tree bark and bamboo, hence their name in Vietnamese:  non la, or leaf hats.   

See more of Jorge Silva’s work at Reuters or on Instagram (@jgesilva) or twitter (@jgesilva).