Bruine Bamboehoed Model 1909 en de Groene Bamboehoed Model 1935

Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 and the Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935

In 1905 the Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (Royal Netherlands East-Indies Army) is still equipped with the non-practical Helmhoed Model 1894 (Helmet-Hat Model 1894) as part of the Donkerblauw Uniform (Dark Blue Uniform). General Order Nr. 36 of 1905 however authorizes
the Commander of the Army to allow derogations from the prescribed uniform for those units making part of expeditions if required by circumstances.
The wearing of the practical Bruine Bamboehoed (Brown Bamboo Hat) therefore becomes authorized. Test examples of the fully braided, brown painted Brown Bamboo Hat with a wide brim are existing already for some years and provided to a number of units in Atjeh and in the Southern and Eastern Departments of Borneo. The expedition through the Gajolanden, Alaslanden and Bataklanden of 1904 and the Boni expedition of 1905 are already performed with the Brown Bamboo Hat. Due to the Boni expedition the Brown Bamboo Hat is sometimes nicknamed “Boni Hat”.

Due to the well-designed shape of the wide brim of the Brown Bamboo Hat the sun will not shine in the eyes, it provides plenty of shade, ventilation & coolness and rain will not reach the neck or collar. It can be well secured on the head by means of a chinstrap made out of leather in a brown color and its brass buckle.
At this moment the construction of the Brown Bamboo Hat is however not yet perfect. It is not strong enough for use in the field, as cracks appear as one passes thorny branches or walk and crawl through bushes. The Helmet-Hat Model 1894 has a durability three times that of the Brown Bamboo Hat. The price of the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 is however 50% more than that of the Brown Bamboo Hat, the latter ranging from two till four Gulden (Guilders).

The quality of the bamboo plaiting is therefore improved and with Royal Decree Nr. 50 of the 8th of December 1909 and Governmental Decree Nr. 32 of the 11th of February 1910 the Bruine Bamboehoed Model 1909 (Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909) officially replaces the Helmet-Hat Model 1894. Before that date the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 is still issued, while the Brown Bamboo Hat can be purchased at own expense.
The reason for the military authorities to keep the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 as the official headgear between 1905 and 1910 is that of tradition & uniformity during the frequent held parades and pure economical. There are still very large stock levels of the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 which have to be issued. Even till 1915 the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 can be seen as there are not enough pieces of the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 immediately available and the stock of the Helmet-Hat Model 1894 is not yet exhausted.
The bamboo strips for the production of the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 are produced in a factory in Tangerang, while the actual manufacturing takes place in several prisons.

When worn during field service, exercises, troop movements and during rain, the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 is used with the rim on the left and right side in a downward position.
One could however turn either the left or the right side of the rim upward and fasten it with a pushbutton in that position. Which side is turned upward depends on the circumstances or wishes of the commander.
When bringing the salute by Officieren (Officers) with the Klewang or the Saber, from a practical point of view, it is common to have the right side of the rim upward.

From 1912 a round cockade is attached by means of a push button on the folded rim. The cockade can be placed at the left or at the right-hand side, mainly depending on which side of the rim is put upward. At first the cockade has an orange base surrounded by golden galons, the same as used on the Grijs-Groen Katoenen Kwartiermuts Model 1911 (Grey-Green Cotton Visor Cap Model 1911). Already in 1912 this changes to a red-white-blue round cockade with a diameter of 3.5 cm. used on the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 only.

By 1915 the Royal Netherlands East-Indies Army is fully equipped both with the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 and the Grijs-Groen Katoenen Uniform Model 1911 (Grey-Green Cotton Uniform Model 1911).
Two major modifications are then proposed to the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909. The first one is the addition of a second sphere in the interior as a protection against the sun. Both spheres are placed a small distance from each other. On the inside there is also a soft light leather sweatband which, with blocks of cork, is attached to the outer sphere, again with a small distance in between for ventilation. Furthermore two ventilation holes at each side of the dome are added.

The second modification is to bring the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 and the Grey-Green Cotton Uniform Model 1911 in line and as green is the best camouflage color in the Dutch East-Indies the decision is taken to make the Bamboo Hat green by means of paint.
Painting flexible bamboo braid strips is not easy, and by 1917 no proper method has been developed.
Therefore in 1917 another approach is taken by proposing a Grey-Green cover for the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909, weighing 80 grams. However by excluding the inner sphere total weight will not increase. After several tests it is decided in 1920 to drop the idea of the Grey-Green cover, as after prolonged heavy rain the Grey-Green cover will absorb water and becomes too heavy. Furthermore the Grey-Green cover can shrink putting pressure on the head and due to the Grey-Green cover the bamboo stays humid longer with the danger of mold and a smell.
Work on painting the Bamboo Hat is resumed.

It would take until 1933 before a manageable process is being developed to get the Bamboo Hat in the desired green color and also to keep the color intact during wear.
The Bamboo Hat is sprayed in a green color with so-called “duco”, a synthetic type of paint, related to the tough, durable, well-adhering and not shiny paint already in use on military equipment and military vehicles.
It is however a relatively expensive treatment. 75 Examples of the new Green Bamboo Hat are sent to a field battalion on Java for a final test and are found satisfying on all requirements.
The Green Bamboo Hat has a low visibility from the sky, the glare at first present at new examples, soon disappears when in use. The paint holds up well, doesn’t let go and doesn’t granulate. The Green Bamboo Hat is not heavier than the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909 but keeps the head much cooler. Also, due to the “duco”, the Green Bamboo Hat remains dry during heavy rains because the water runs off immediately, preventing it being drenched or becoming heavier.
The cleaning with soap & water and the treatment for flexibility with Vaseline works, as with the Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909, well.

In 1935 therefore the decision is made to introduce from the beginning of 1936 the Groene Bamboehoed Model 1935 (Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935). The Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935 is first issued to the units on Java, followed later by those on the Buitengewesten (Outer Islands).

Due to motorization of the Royal Netherlands East-Indies Army in the period 1940-1941 some functions as motorcyclists, truck drivers, crews of armored vehicles etc. stop using the Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935 on practical grounds.
On the other hand, due to the threat posed by the Empire of Japan more citizens are, in one way or another put under arms. All of these people receive as part of their Grijs-Groen Katoenen Uniform 1938 (Grey-Green Cotton Uniform Model 1938) the Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935. Due to this large demand the high quality of the Green Bamboo Hat Model 1935 cannot be maintained. The examples made in 1940-1941 loose something of their beautiful form, but more important they are thinner, making them brittle and therefore more vulnerable for cracks.

Sources:
De bamboehoed van het K.N.I.L.; C.A. Heshusius

Bruine Bamboehoed Model 1909 en de Groene Bamboehoed Model 1935
This example of a Bruine Bamboehoed Model 1909 (Brown Bamboo Hat Model 1909) has a production label inside, sewn on its second sphere made out of red fabric. The production label reads “GEVANGENIS.SERANG” (Prison.Serang) “ORDER NO…30 4/2/24” “GEKEURD” (Checked) “VERZONDEN” (Shipped) 23/4 24. The leather sweatband is marked with “VERVAARDIGD S’LANDS GEVANGENIS SERANG” (Produced in the State Prison Serang).
Furthermore the initials AHS are present, presumably those of the original owner.