Romancing The Toupe

Coming from the world of color, culture and cotton. Sensing the snow peaked Himalayas to monuments of love and temples of avid devotion…transcending all imaginations, it was simplicity in the dunes; the sheaves of sand layering gravitating me to the mystic Middle East.

Maybe it was Aladdin on the magic carpet a midst the bazaar wearing the prayer cap or my comfort in knowing my names popularity in the region which made me want to travel, learn and acquire whatever I could. The fez or Tarboush (as known in Egypt, Turkey, Syria) popularly worn by men for prayers and festivals is much more than velvet crafted cap with a tassel top. The Nuristan Afghani Pashto Toupee is hand embroidered in small towns across Afghanistan and the north frontier by craftsmen, for some their only livelihood. With intricacy a talent amongst Muslims, the designs are traditionally beautiful ranging in different colors and patterns demographically. Stories unfolded with each piece as they are passionately made and cared for.

Travelling through Turkey gave me an insight into the ethnic importance given to carpets, jewelry and hats worn as ubiquitously from prayer rooms to shopping malls. My love for toupee didn’t stop me from realizing it’s a hat worn by men religiously, on the contrary heightened my desire to share and wear the lesser known accessory. With little or no effort required to wear it…instantly making you a part of a tribe, magically bringing out the dervish inside you.

Picking up my first ever from the coastal town of Bodrum (Turkey), the cobalt blue with a silver headpiece attached to it struck my fancy and that’s where it all began. My own workers wearing them to work and for prayers ignited my curiosity for the same.

Travelling to Kashmir in the summer…little did I know I’d be cherishing this piece of cloth beautifully structured to sit on top of the head, crowning without jewels; making me feel like the female pharaoh Nefertiti on wearing the headpiece designed for the king, its destiny unknown.

– ZINA

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