For at least the last two thousand years, Korean men have traditionally worn their hair in a little bun, or topknot, on the top of their heads. This topknot had social, religious and political significance. A fragile, lacquered Topknot Hat was worn to protect this hairdo. If this hat ever got rained on, it was ruined. As a precaution, when wearing one, Koreans would carry a waterproof covering for it, usually in their capacious sleeve. This covering, called a kat-no, is simply a pleated cone of oiled paper of a deep yellow color that glistens like worn oilcloth.
In rainy weather the cone is placed over the hat and tied under the chin with strings. When the cone is not in use it folds readily into a small space due to its pleats. This simple little hat cone has made history. With the addition of a stick and sliding ribs, it is the forerunner of the modern umbrella.