Afghanistan, having been in the news, has created a new fashion in hats. There are several different styles, some more familiar than others. Read our guide for more facts and information…
The Pakol hat is possibly the hat that Americans and Europeans most associate with Afghanistan. It is the type worn by fighters of the Northern Freedom Alliance. It is made of wool, has a pancake like top with the bottom being made into bands. These are worn with the bottoms rolled up to make a cushion type band around the head. The top lays flat to the head.
The rolls on the cap serve a good purpose. The design of the hat is based on Islamic tradition. In the Muslim faith prayer is required five times a day. When a Muslim prays, his head touches the ground. The rolls of the Pakol hat provide a cushion for the forehead.
Oddly enough, this hat did not originate from Afghanistan. Instead it came from Chitral region of Pakistan. During the war with the U.S.S.R., many Afghans took refuge in Pakistan and when they returned to Afghanistan they brought the hat with them.
Perhaps the second best known Afghan hat is the Karakul hat that is worn by Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Karzai is a Pashtun from the south of Afghanistan where the traditional headgear is the turban. When he became president, he wanted to look as though he represented all of Afghanistan, so he started wearing the Karakul hat. This hat immediately became popular among the Afghans.
The hat is peaked and when taken off it folds flat. The more expensive ones, said to cost as much as $3000.00, is made from the wool of aborted karakul lambs. Others are made from the wool of newborn lambs.
The design is very popular in parts of central Asia, and is actually of Soviet origins. Karzai led to it becoming popular in Afghanistan, but he has also led to a decline in its popularity there. When he was elected president, people were excited with the new democracy and looked on Karzai as a hero. One aborted election later when Karzai refused to give up his leadership role; he and the hat have waned in popularity among the Afghans.
Another popular hat among the Afghans is the Kandahari style hat. It is woven and may include jewels worked into it. The Uzbeki style hat is a knitted hat and is usually knitted with many different colors. Also worn is the Tajiki style hat that resembles a bowl and is made of suede.
All of these hats can be purchased at various sites on the internet. You may find a few stores in New York that carry them.