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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
South East Asian
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.
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.