A woolen cap from Tajikistan, Pic source: Author

The headgear in Islamic world has evolved through the timeline of history. The Arabic world for the cap is “Taqiyah”. It has been said that the word “Taqiyah” has been derived from Persian word, Taq that means dome. From Central Asian countries to South Asia, one can find a diverse varieties of colorful headgear that became a part of their cultural outfit. In this visual gallery, I am covering only the diverse varieties of caps used across the Islamic world though the turbans (imama) also form the type of headgear. During my travels across these countries, I had purchased varieties of headgear that are the symbolic cultural representation for each region & culture. It was during this holy month of Ramzan when we were praying at homes amid outbreak of pandemic, I started a series of Instagram post on these caps that were part of cultural apparels in each region. This initiative of sharing the headgear aim to celebrate the cultural diversity & keep alive the traditions for the coming generations by documenting it in visual format.

My first post on the cap from Tajikistan

Central Asia

With the rapid urbanization & changing political landscapes, the use of cultural apparels had been now limited to to small proportion of the population. But still one can find the diverse varieties of headgear used in central Asian countries. The Russian word “Tubeteika” is popular for the traditional caps used in Muslim countries of Central Asia. In the decade of 1940s, it was quite popular & worn by almost majority of the population.


A specimen of this is this cap from Tajkistan. It is made of woollen cloth with strips of cotton.


Qaraquli of Uzbakistan, Pic source: Author
Uzbek Duppa/Doppa, also known as Chogosha

In fact the word “Qaraquli” has been derived from the “Qarqul” that is named after a breed of sheep mainly domesticated in Qorakol, a city in Bukhara region of Uzbekistan. This cap has been prepared from the wool of the lambs. Many variants of this cap now existed in different parts of the world. In Uzbekistan, this has been mainly worn by the people from upper strata of the society during winters. However in the general masses, the traditional Uzbek, Duppi is more common form of the head wear. Its a flat cap with square base more common in black color.


A variety of caps were used among Turkmen tribes. One of them used is Tekke cap that came up with vivid colors with embroideries. Both males & females used this ceremonial cap.

Turkmen folk art caps, they are distinct, one for right is for men and one on left for women. Pic source: Author


Traditionally the people of Kyrgyztan used to wear a head cover that known as Calpack, kalpak, or qalpaq. There were different varieties & shapes of the Kalpak. Each color is symbolic of their culture. During the winter season this kalpak is replaced by thick & warm cap enriched with fur that is known as Tebetey. Its mainly used by the tribal leaders.

Kyrgyz Hat, pic source: author


Cap in the shape of a Yurt, of nomadic people of Qazaqistan, who keeps moving with their livestock and build a Yurt wherever they stay. Pic Source: Author

Turkish, Middle Eastern & North African

A diverse varieties of the caps were evolved in middle eastern culture during the days of Ottoman rule. However here we are going to present few of them that became symbolic or affiliated with certain regions & cultures. One such long traditional hat is known as sikke or  kyula. Originally it was evolved among the dervishes who were followers of Mevlana Rum. This high hat was made up of camel wool. Also known as Rumi cap.

Rumi Cap, Pic source: Author
Cap of Qaraqounlu, made up black sheep tribe of West Iran,South Turkey and North Syria, with two flaps. Helps in the protection from extreme cold temperature during winters. Pic Source: Author
Evil’ eradicating cap.The blue eye is supposed to remove ‘Nazar’. Very popular charm of Turkey. Pic Source: Author


Modified Fez of Al-Maghreb is characterized by shorter height of 3.5 inch and without characteristic tail, usually worn by Arabs of Morocco. Historically Fez was the part of Byzantine culture that was later promoted by Ottomans. By the time of 19th & 20th century it became a part of oriental identity. The name of this cap is derived from the Moroccan city where the dye to color this cap was produced. During early 20th century in Morocco, it became the symbol of nationalism & resistance against the French occupation.

Modified Fez of Morocco, Pic Source: Author
Jamae-al-Fana is the central piazza of Marrakesh, full of shows and eateries at night. This cap is of a juggler of Jame, they whorl their head for the tail to go round. Pic Source: Author

Omani caps is a round shape head piece that has been intricate with the culture of Omani people. Well designed with diverse floral patterns, they were known as Omani Kuma in Arabic. Sewn in two layers, the hand made piece are more expensive than machine sew caps. They are also worn under their traditional turbans (mussar).

Three inch tall Omani-style semi-rigid kufi hat with unique intricate embroidery design. Omani caps of various designs and patterns, usually light and bright, made of cotton. Also used in peripheral states of Arabian peninsula. Pic Source: Author
Taqiyah Arab skull cap of knitted cotton thread. On top should be worn Keffiya, the head cover and Aeqal, that was once made up of the the round cord of goat hair during traditional days. Pic Source: Author
I bought this beautiful cap from a Bazar inside Damascus gate, Bait-Ul-Muqaddas, by a Palestinian vendor. Pic Source: Author

South Asian 

With the arrivals of Turks, Mughals, Afghans & Middle Eastern soldiers, adventurers & rulers, they brought with them culture & cuisine. With the time, it has been modified & blended with the regional cultures across the subcontinent. In South Asia, a diverse varieties of headgear can be found & it has been used by non-Muslims also during in their cultural settings.

This is Chogosha cap that still popular among Uzbek culture as Duppa. This four corner cap is from Farghana, the country of Zahir-Uddin Babar. Turks carried it with them, when they came to Hindustan. My grandfathers and great- grand fathers where using it until beginning of twentieth century.
This is another traditional cap somewhat similar with Turkish & Central Asian caps. The poet Ghalib used to wore this style of cap.
کلاہِ غالب: پوچھتے ہیں وہ کہ غالب کون ہے کوئی بتلاؤ کہ ہم بتلائیں کیا
This Turkish hat at one point of time became popular among students & elites of South Asian Muslims. During the first world war & khilafat movement, it was used all across Muslim world & afterward it was banished by Mustafa Kamal Pasha as a symbol of Khilafat. It gain popularity in India also during those days. Pic Source: Author
Dopalli Topi: During Mughal decline a price migrated to Lucknow wearing a double layer Mamal
( Muslin) cap which got popular in Awadh, but they made it better by chikenkari (white thread decoration). Chiken work was a trend started by Noorjahan Begum Queen of Jahangir the fourth great Mughal. Pic Source: Author

This sub-type of the cap seems to be evolved at historic Aligarh Muslim University. It is indeed not only education that Aligarh University provided but also gave this trend of Sherwani and topi of same color and same material. This style has been used in formal settings in many parts of South Asian cities.

Aligrah cut cap. Pic Source: Author
This cap became synonymous with the name of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Qaraquli, which Muslim press labelled as Jinnah Cap. Ideally it should be black, but now mass produced, neither they are of lamb skin nor necessarily of black color.
Kashghar Caps: one on the right is a Chogosha plain, made of hard felt, usually worn at occiput,there are printed ones as well. One on the left is a cotton everyday use for Salat. These are the variants of central Asian caps & also used in Indian sub-continent. Pic source: Author
Liaqat,the first P.M. of Pakistan has many failures in his political life like ignoring Soviet invitation,initiating quota system with loss of merit, but personally established his own trend including this Qaraquli based cap which is roundish with a blunt pointed end in the front. Pic Source: Author
Pakol Cap of Northern areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. Made of rough wool, originated as a bag with the edge rolled over. Used by Chitral Scouts and famous Mujahid Ahmad Shah Masud of Afghanistan. Pic Source: Author
Afghan Winter cap, made of pure lamb skin, even the dome with the button is reverse lamb skin. Really warm and most suitable for cold areas. Made in Pakistan. Pic source: Author
Rampur was inhabited by Pathans & established as a small princely state by Nawab Faizullah Khan after the fall of Afghans Rohillas with Awadh & East India company in 1774. It was also on the right side of English. Prosperity brought expensive tastes like velvet, of which the cap is made. A symbol of power and wealth has distinctive soft feel. Source: Author
This white cool cap of ‘Khaddar’ is the transformation from Rampuri cap. Hakim Ajmal khan who use wear Rampuri cap thought of having a Rampuri in ‘Khaddar’ as it will appeal to Gandhiji and congress workers. It became popular as Gandhi cap ( reference: Zillur- Rahman; Hakim Ajmal Khan, p 112), Pic Source: Author
‘Malang Topi’ can be seen at every shrine of Sufi Dargah all over subcontinent of Pakistan and India. You will find malanga, mujavirs (custodians) who thrives on the popularity and earnings of that respectful authority. Topi is tailored by joining various pieces of cotton, well proportioned. Pic Source: Author
Himachal Cap: Himachal Pardesh is a North Indian state created in recent past. This flat felt cap with front colourful band is its characteristic. It is also worn by women folk. It has been politicised, BJP uses crimson band and Congress uses green. Pic Source: Author

South East Asian

Songkok of Indonesia: A cap found in various colours and decorations, some with a band of decoration only. Also worn in other parts of Southeast Asia. It is made of felt. A national struggle cap worn by Sukarno.
Malaysian Kopiah: The traditional headgear of Malaysia is usually black, but this black and white is an attractive design. Made of wash and wear material. Usually worn with colourful sarong.

I am ending this headgear write up with the link of last Instagram post on the cap that was a series done during the days of lock down due to Covid pandemic. The idea was gave an acquaintance to the coming generations about the cultural diversity that stood across the world in form of apparels, cuisine & languages.

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Dr. Mirza Hasan Beg is Scotland based Otorhinolaryngologist who is always passionate to contribute in literary sphere of History & Culture. He had edited & compiled five accounts of Mughal history. He published innumerable number of articles in filed of history, culture & Urdu poetry. From Central Asia to India, he traveled & traced the footsteps of Babar, the first Mughal ruler of India.


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