Bingeing on old movies one weekend, I noticed most of the male characters wore hats. In Casablanca (1942), Humphrey Bogart’s fedora casts a romantic and dangerous shadow over the face of rakish Rick Blaine, while Gregory Peck’s Panama in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is a keystone of all that is good about Atticus Finch. Even the ungainly Gene Hackman cuts a not unhandsome figure in his pork pie hat as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection (1971) and French Connection II (1975). For the first half of the 20th century, it was common for men to wear hats but by the latter half, they had become an accessory only for ceremonial or special occasions. Until recent times, men in China always wore a hat or head covering. Headgear was so important that a young man’s induction into adulthood was marked by a “capping ceremony” ( guanli ). Only after going through this rite of passage would he be allowed to marry, and participate in clan and social activities as an adult. While the age for guanli was traditionally 20, it could occur earlier. A grand affair witnessed by many, the ceremony involved placing three different types of headgear on the young man’s head, one after the other, with different felicitous words recited by a master of ceremony. At the end of the capping ceremony, the young man would be given a courtesy name ( zi ) and would start wearing head coverings befitting an adult male. Given China’s long history, there are too many different types of male headgear to enumerate here, but they all served the purpose of protecting the wearer’s head and projecting his place in the social hierarchy. For Han Chinese men, who did not cut their hair, head coverings also had to help keep their topknots in place. The size and complexity of male headgear varied according to time, place and occupation, from small rings with minimal adornments through which a topknot could fit, to brimless hats whose crowns covered most of the wearer’s hair; and from simple fabric turbans secured with knots to elaborate headdresses of dizzying heights and opulence. In the same way that designer handbags are named after Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly, a few men’s hats were named for “celebrities”. The Dongpo hat was popularised by Song period man of letters and bon vivant Su Dongpo (1037-1101), who made improvements to an existing version. It was a high cuboid hat made of stiff gauze stretched over a thin rattan frame. Encircling the crown were upright panels attached to the base and it was worn with one corner facing the front. Another popular hat had two celebrity namesakes. Crafted from silk and with a pleated crown, the Chunyang or Letian hatmade the wearer look like he had a miniature roof over his head and survives to the present day as part of the liturgical garments of Taoist priests. It is called the Chunyang hat after legendary Taoist sage Lü Dongbin (born 796), aka Master Chunyang. Its other name invokes the great Tang dynasty poet Bai Letian, better known as Bai Juyi (772-846). Today, except during the bitterly cold winters in the far north of China, few Han Chinese men wear hats every day. Some may wear one for a special event or to make a fashion statement, but like men in most parts of the world, modern Chinese men prefer to be bareheaded.