Afghan Hats

If you have been watching the news lately, you will have seen that almost all members of the "Northern Alliance" wear a special type of round hat.

Those are Chitrali hats, originally from Chitral in Northwest Pakistan. I know a lot about them because my wife Honzagool is from Chitral. This type of hat is called a Pakol in the Chitrali language.

The Afghan refugees started wearing them after so many fled Afghanistan by way of Chitral. Ahmed Shah Masood, whose home in the Panshir Valley was not far from Chitral, was one who adopted this custom.
Sam Sloan wearing Afghan Hat
Haji Mohammad Ismail Sloan wearing Afghan Hat

The best hats are from the Village Mogh in Chitral. If you are in Peshawar Pakistan, go to the Chitrali Bazaar which is in the Qissa Khani Bazaar in the Old City Peshawar. There are thousands of these hats for sale there. Tell them that Ismail sent you. They know me.
Ahmed Shah Masood wearing Afghan Hat
Ahmed Shah Masood wearing Afghan Hat

They are now for sale in New York City, but I do not know exactly where. However, the ones for sale here are sloppy, of poor quality. There is a big difference, which any Chitrali will recognize immediately.

The one Masood is wearing in the picture at is of high quality. Notice that his rolls in a circle. The low quality ones, such as the one I am wearing in the picture, flatten out around the side of the head.

In addition, notice that the one I am wearing is sagging and uneven around the top edge, whereas the one that Masood is wearing is sharp at the top edge.

The number of bands is also important. I doubt if you can find one as good as the one Masood is wearing in America. If you do find one and the shopkeeper can recognize the difference, the good one will be four times more expensive.

The design of the hat is based on Islam. When a Sunni Muslim man prays, his forehead must touch the ground. The round part provides a cushion. By contrast, when a Shiite Muslim prays, his head must rest on a rock. This type of hat would not be suitable for a Shiite. Shiites often carry a rock in their pockets to pray on. In the Shiite mosque there is a pile of rocks for the men to pick up and use in prayer.

When a Shiite prays in a Sunni Mosque, he imitates the others who are praying around him. "Do as the Romans do", is the Shiite motto.

The picture of me wearing the hat is from the dustcover of my book "Khowar English Dictionary". At the time I wrote my book, I did not know enough about these hats to know that I was wearing the poorest qualify hat. This causes me great embarassment later on when Chitralis saw the book and asked me where I got that hat from.

Ismail Sloan

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