Search by Subject
Search by Institution
Tao Coconut Palm Fiber Hat

Tags: aborigine | hat | Tao | Yami

Sakop is a term in the Tau language that refers to all types of helmets and hats. They are divided into two categories: those used for work and those worn during special ceremonies and rites. The former type is mostly worn while working in the fields, while the latter type is for ceremonial use. The ceremonial hats worn by men differ from those worn by women. The ceremonial hat of men is a silver conical shaped helmet called Volangat. Women wear an octagonal shaped hat called Rangat. However, very few families possess a ceremonial hat or helmet. Such items are mostly worn by respected elders. Work hats are used when carrying out farming and fishing activities to protect against the sun or rain. They come in different forms such as a wide brim or a helmet shape. The materials used to make such hats include Manila hemp, rattan palm fiber and coconut palm fiber.

This hat is formed from bamboo strips, rattan and coconut palm fiber. It is conical in shape with a wide brim. It measures 21 cm in height with a diameter of 46 cm at its widest point. It is a type of work hat mainly worn by women when cultivating crops or visiting friends or family.

A number of steps are involved in making this type of hat. First, rattan palm fibers are soaked to soften. Then, they are formed into a circle measuring about 40 cm in diameter. This forms the base of the hat. More than twenty holes are made in this base through which bamboo strips are placed to form the frame.

Finer rattan fibers are used to form 10 cm rings to shape the top of the hat. Then, four bamboo strips from the base of the hat are used to form cross patterns and are then bound to bamboo strips from the top of the hat. At the same time, the arcs of the hat are shaped with coconut palm fiber. Next, coconut palm fiber is hung from the hat frame and bound with bamboo strips to modify the final shape. Fine rattan palm fibers are used to make several small rings that are tied to the bamboo strips. One rattan ring is placed on the outside of the base of the brim and two or three more rattan rings are added to the inside.

Then coconut palm fiber is cut into triangular shapes and attached to the hat frame. After two or three layers have been completed, old fishing line is used to sew these layers in place. Then, charcoal is used to mark the maximum circumference of the hat. Usually Manila hemp is used for finer stitches and for stitching around the edges. This is followed by the use of plain stitch from bottom to top. Next, two strips of fine rattan palm fiber are used to hold the coconut palm fiber in place. Then, eel bone is used to decorate the rim of the hat and to keep the coconut palm fiber from being torn.

Finally, coconut palm fiber or pieces of metal are wrapped around the top of the hat to prevent water from seeping in. To the top of the hat are added spiraled pieces of metal wire. This type of decoration appeared after 1945. This particular hat shows the Tau’s “wave” motif. However, such hats traditionally had no ornamentation, as this was considered taboo. Rattan palm fiber pieces are woven into the inside of the hat and tied to the bamboo strips. Pieces of string are added to keep the hat in place when worn.

When this hat entered the collection, the decorative metal ring on the top of the hat was already bent and distorted. The remainder of the hat is intact.


Department of Graphic Communications and Digital Publishing, Shih Hsin University Digital archiving project of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines