Part of a lot purchased together which includes a woman’s ensemble –blouse, pair of trousers and a jacket (ZI2020.500741 ASIA, ZI2020.500741a ASIA, ZI2020.500741b ASIA) and six other pieces not related to the ensemble (ZI2020.500741c ASIA, ZI2020.500741d ASIA, ZI2020.500741f ASIA, ZI2020.500741g ASIA, ZI2020.500741h ASIA, ZI2020.500741i ASIA).
This black fleece flat-topped men’s hat was purchased by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli from Kerry Taylor Auctions, London in 2020 to be added to The Zay Initiative Collection.
This is a black fleece and felt Kashmiri style men’s flat hat (karakuli / qarakuli) variations of which are worn from Russia to the Indian subcontinent.
First introduced in the Indian subcontinent from Central Asia these types of hats were originally brought from Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Traditionally constructed from the fleece of Karakuli lamb of Afghanistan and Central Asia, they started to be gradually made in Afghanistan too.
The South Asian versions of these hats were originally traditionally made in the Kashmir valley of the subcontinent. The naturally soft and curly fleece of these lambs rendered a unique quality to these hats and has always been considered a sign of wealth and prosperity as well as respectability.
This piece has three pairs of cotton ribbon fastenings at the back to loosen or tighten the hat according to the wearer’s ease.
Traditional Kashmiri wedding practices would often have the groom take off his turban and put on a karakuli while waiting for the bride to arrive. This hat being a part of a lot with other items traditionally worn by Muslim grooms and groomsmen suggests that it was possibly a part of a fairly affluent Muslim groom and his men’s wedding attire.