The hats of Central Asia
The Tubeteika Suits
By Rustam Mizaev
of you that have/can visit our offices will have noted our 'Wall of
Hats' in the entrance area. Within that 'montage' of hats are many Uzbek
'Skull Caps'. A significant part of Central Asian culture their history
is detailed as follows...
history of this scull-cap is rooted in the distant ages. They say that
Islam, which forbade walking in the streets bare-headed, contributed to
the custom of wearing this cap. The cap appeared to be rather handy: to
wear it on the head one just needs to unfold it, whereas being folded
the cap can be easily tucked up in the sash.
Apart from its purely utilitarian function, skull-cap has always served as decoration for ones complete attire. Skillful seamstresses sought real beauty and perfection thus elevating their handicraft to the level of cultural art.
Historically the form of a tubeteika originated from
a pointed cap worn under turban. The word 'tubeteika' is derived from
the Tatar word 'tubete', meaning 'top'. In Uzbekistan such a cap is
called a 'duppi' or 'kalpoq'. By the 19th century as hats became more
widespread diversity shape evolved:
Most often black satin or velvet are chosen for male caps. Female caps are made of silk, velvet and brocade. They can have a high or low border, can be trimmed with one-colour or multicoloured edging and made of other fabrics. They can be embroidered in silk, decorated with beadwork, gold and silver threads and metal patch pieces.
Diversity of shape and the texture of tubeteikas can be quite amazing. They can be further differentiated depending upon whether the user is a man (old and young), woman or a child. This difference can seem insignificant to an outsider, but an expert can clearly see whom it is intended for and can never permit themselves to put on an 'improper' cap.
The most widespread male tubeteika's come from Chust
in the Ferghana Valley They are conventional, unpretentious but still in
a decorative form. A contrasting combination of four white patterns, in
shape of a capsicum (called 'qalampur'), against black background is
typical of tubeteikas from this region. The four flowers on the top of a
tubeteika are supposed to protect a man's health from four sides, while
sixteen small patterned arches, located along the edge of the cap, mean
a desire to have a big and friendly family and sixteen children!!!
Without such a tubeteika no man can appear in mosque, visit a wedding or
Tubeteikas vary from region to region. Historically
there are six regional groups - Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara,
Kashkadarya, Surkhandarya, and Khorezm. Each district has developed its
own style, passed from generation to generation, from mother to
daughter. Every woman enriches the traditional ornamental motifs with
her own creative images. The art of embroidery has formed gradually -
from ritual magic patterns to poetic images, distinguished by variety
form and high levels of stylization.
The work of local masters is full of symbols. The
composition of many works portray images of blossom, circles, rosettes,
flower heads on thin stems and shoots with leaves. Images of animals and
bright plumaged birds are sometimes entwined with vegetable patterns. As
a rule images of those plants which are believed to possess healing
properties are depicted.
'Gilam-duppi' tubeteika from Shakhrisabz and 'piltaduzi'
from Surkhandarya are embroidered with the creed stitch 'iroki', and are
distinguishable by their picturesque multicolored patterns. Young Uzbek
women often complement their modern fashions with a bright elegant
scull-cap. In Tashkent the most popular male skull-caps are 'shobpush'
tubeterikas, made of cotton fabric with a quilted lining.
The most unusual is the gold embroidered skull-cap from the Bukhara region. It's shape is usually round or tetrahedral, with vegetable or geometrical ornamentation and decorated with a fringe of elegant tassels. Gold embroidery makes this scull-cap look bright and festive. These skull-caps used to be an essential part of the emir's attire, as well as that of the nobility. Nowadays such a tubeteika is an important element of a wedding costume. It is curious that as late as the beginning of the 20th century gold embroidery was exclusively a man's trade, but in the later period women were involved with this craft.
An Uzbek skull-cap is considered one of the national cultural art form, an integral part of folk costume. The art of embroidery achieved its greatest influence in the late 19th and mid 20th centuries. This is when skull-caps reached the highest point of popularity in the everyday life of Uzbek people and were manufactured everywhere.
Uzbek skull-caps are well-known worldwide. Created by skillful craftswomen they are found displayed at many museums. The most complete collection of skull-caps can be found in Tashkent museum. whereas There is still an old saying - "a man's honour and morality lies in his skull-cap".