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Head-coverings subheader

Man wearing a laheria turban, Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India

Man wearing a laheria turban, Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India
Photo by Meena Kadri

Clothing and Culture in South Asia

From the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection
Koehnline Museum of Art
February 10-March 25, 2011


Woman’s pillbox hat (based on a Muslim man’s cap)
1960s, India, 3” high x 6.25” wide
Rayon satin with gold- and silver-colored zardozi (metal-thread embroidery), plastic pearls, and glass beads; buckram interfacing


HLATC #2001.12.008 MORE INFO



HLATC #1998.11.006 MORE INFO

Child’s cap
mid to late 20th c.
Indus Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
5.25” high x 5.5 wide
Cotton with silk satin-, cross-, and chain-stitch embroidery, plastic buttons, and beads; printed cotton lining


Kalash woman’s outfit

1998.12.1, 1998.12.2, 1998.11.9a-c

Kalash woman’s kupas (headdress)

HLATC #1998.12.002 MORE INFO

Kalash woman’s kupas (headdress)
Grom, Chitral region, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
25.5” long x 9.75” wide
Wool with cowrie shells, plastic and metal buttons, beads, and metal bells


This headdress would have been worn over a shushut (see #1998.12.001 below) on special occasions by a Kalash woman living in an isolated valley in northern Pakistan. She would have spun, woven, and dyed the wool ground fabric herself. The cowrie shells and other ornaments, however, would have been imported across long distances over difficult terrain, proclaiming their wearer’s wealth.


Kalash women’s shushut (headdress)

HLATC #1998.12.001 MORE INFO

Kalash women’s shushut (headdress)
Krakal, Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
31” long x 9.25” wide
Wool with glass beads, cowrie shells, plastic buttons, metal chains, brass bells and chain-stitch embroidery


This everyday headdress would have been worn beneath a kupas (see #1998.12.002 above) on special occasions. As is true in much of South Asia and many cultures elsewhere, Kalash female dress is more conservative than male attire: while Kalash women still wear traditional dress, Kalash men have adopted modern Pakistani garb.


Child’s cap with earflaps
last quarter 20th c., Indus Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, 10.25” high x 8.75” wide
Cotton with plastic and metal horned charm, plastic buttons, glass (and metal?) beads, metal disks, zipper, satin- and cross-stitch embroidery


Child’s cap with earflaps

Side View HLATC #1999.08.004 More info

Child’s cap with earflaps

HLATC #1999.08.004 More info

From its earflaps to its horned charm, this cap was designed to protect the child who wore it from both the harsh climate and spiritual danger. The metal disks were intended to reflect and repel approaching malevolent energies. The plastic, glass, and metal ornaments sewn all over the cap’s surface would have tinkled as the child moved, scaring away evil spirits.



HLATC #1998.10.003 MORE INFO

Child’s natiyo (hood)
mid to late 20th c.
Indus Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
20” high x 21” wide
Cotton with glass beads, plastic buttons, and cross- and satin-stitch embroidery; lined in printed cotton


Woman’s perak (headdress)

HLATC #1999.08.005 More Info

Woman’s perak (headdress)
early to mid 20th c.
Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
24.25” long x 11.5 wide
Silk brocade over leather with turquoise, coral, agate, pearl or shell beads, wood beads, jewel-encrusted metal box, and silver crescent with bells; cotton lining


This extraordinary piece is heavily encrusted with turquoise from Iran and coral from Southeast Asia, both imported at enormous expense. Women begin collecting turquoise and other ornaments for their perak as children, and they are given from mother to daughter. The perak is worn over a fitted cap of black lambskin that has large, wing-shaped flanges at the sides. Ladakhi women once wore headdresses such as this every day, even while working in the fields, but now they are only expected to wear them on formal occasions. The turquoise and coral stones here, as well as the crescent-shaped amulet with its spirit-chasing bells, are all believed to safeguard the wearer. Even though the ground fabric is barely visible beneath the dense ornamentation, it appears to be a precious Chinese silk brocade.




Woman’s perak (headdress)

Detail of Woman’s perak (headdress)


Woman wearing perak headdress, Ladakh, India.

Woman wearing a perak headdress, Ladakh, India Photo by Helen Cannon-Brookes



HLATC #2003.08.003 MORE INFO

Naga warrior’s helmet
20th c.
Nagaland, India
11.75” high x 9.25” wide
Braided cane foundation with bear fur, tail of dyed goat hair, cowrie shells, and bone buttons; lined in wadded fleece