Fascinating and colorful traditional headgears of India - a brief note

There are various forms of headgears -  hats, caps, turbans, etc., worn by people world over  serving  specific  purposes. They protect  the head of the person from scorching sun as in India or SE Asian countries, impart honor and dignity as in the case of Indian rulers of past era,  identify  groups or communities,  tribes etc. Wearing a headdress is deeply associated with the culture and tradition of natives, hill tribes  and the communities that belong to them. Native American tribes consider the presentation of an eagle feather to be one of their highest marks of respect. 

Headgears of India exclusivecoins.blogspot.com
India is home to  a lot communities and hill tribes and each having its own distinctive style and tradition of wearing the headgear. Across India, people from  various states have their own traditional headgear. The design and style of Indian ''topis'' or caps may vary from state to state and from community to community, but they give them a proper identity highlighting  their cultural ethos.  Briefly given below are the types of interesting and colorful  headgear commonly worn in India  and their significance.
.Headdress, India dreamstime.com

 01. The Jaapi or Japi, a traditional  hat from Assam:
1. Jaapi (Assam)

Description: The Jaapi is a traditional conical hat from Assam made from bamboo and/or cane and tokou paat (palm leaf).

Significance: Initially used for protection against the sun, it symbolizes status, nobility, and royalty. Jaapi is often used in ceremonies and as a decorative item symbolizing hospitality.

2. Warrior Hat (Naga Tribes)


2. Warrior Hat (Naga Tribes)
  • Description: Made of rattan, goat hair, and boar tusks, this conical hat features a woven cane base with a plume of red-dyed goat's hair.
  • Significance: Worn during festivals with lots jewelry, it signifies the wearer’s tribal affiliation and social status.
  • There are many Naga tribes living in NE India and their hat is suggestive of their place of residence.  Hemi Naga people of Western Burma & North Eastern India follow similar traditio
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03.  Sikh’s Dastaar or Pagri:

Description: The turban, also known as "pagri", is a mandatory headdress for Amritdhari Sikh men and women.

Significance: Represents honor, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. It helps cover long, uncut hair, an important aspect of Sikh identity.  Associated with Sikhism and part of the Sikh culture. The style of the turban may vary, depending on the orders being followed by them and the groups. Even some orders prefer a particular color for their turban.


04. Marathi’s Traditional Turban- Petha:

Fmous cricket players Dhoni and Tendulkar. ekmarathimanoos.blogspot.in
Description: A long piece of cloth, 3.5 to 6 meters long, traditionally worn during festivals and ceremonies.
Significance: The color of the petha indicates the occasion, with different types like the puneri, kolhapuri, and mawali petha being popular.
Similarly, in Maharashtra, the Pheta turban symbolizes pride and is worn during special occasions like weddings. Its style and color can signify the occasion and the wearer's standing in society.

05. The Traditional Mysori Turban - Peta:

Mysore head gear. postagestamps.gov.in

Description: A traditional headgear from Mysore and Kodagu, often made of silk and gold-threaded lace.
Among the head-gears of South India, the traditional headgear worn in the state of Karnataka, particularly, in the Mysore and Kodgu region is called Mysori Turban, Of late, considered as a heritage symbol, Mysori Peta is a popular one. Distinguished guests who visit these places are honored  with it and a shawl. The name Mysore is synonymous with  Indian sweet item called Mysore Pak, Mysore peta (Topi), Mysore silk (saris) and Mysore sandlewood paste (perfume). Mysore rasam is part and parcel of  south Indian meal(lunch).
Maharaja of Mysore Jayachamaraja Wodiyar.Wikipedia
Mysore Peta (in Kannada Peta means turban) is a classical headgear worn by the erstwhile rulers of Mysore - the Wodeyars' Royal family. They used to wear rich bejeweled turban made of high quality silk and jari (gold threaded lace) befitting their royal status. 

Yet another fact is the administrators closer to the ruler such as Dewan, chief engineers, judicial officials and others had the privilege of wearing the Mysore peta, thus displaying their status and power associated with the royalty. Even after Independence, , the traditional Mysore peta has been retained as a symbol and legacy of princely status. 

06. Imamah - The Muslim Turban:

DescriptionDescription: A turban worn by Muslims, typically white, black, gray, or green, made of cloth measuring about 142 inches long.

Significance: Considered a Sunnat-e-Mustamirrah (perpetual practice of the Prophet), it signifies adherence to Islamic traditions and earns spiritual virtues.

07. Unique Naga Headgear- Tsula (NE India):


Description:  Adorned with hornbill bird’s beak, boar tusks, feathers, and animal skulls, it is a unique headdress. The headgear is either inherited or earned by way of doing something useful in the society.  

Significance: Symbolic of  position, status and power one is enjoying   in the society,  The Naga headgear is not meant for others. Even for fun, it is not allowed to be worn head-gears are either inherited  from the family or have to be  earned  by doing something worthwhile

08. Himachali Cap:

Description: Topis from regions like Kully Valley, Chamba, and Lahaul have distinct designs, often associated with political affiliations.
Significance: Reflects regional identity and is often worn during cultural and political events. people also relate the topi color with political parties; for example   Green is for Congress and Red for BJP 
Topis of Kumaon (Nehru topi) and Garhwal  are more or less similar. Kinnaur topi is very traditional, and has been around for a long time

09.. The Colorful Safa From Rajasthan:


Description: Colorful turbans known as Pagari or Safa, with vibrant colors and patterns.

Significance: Colors signify different meanings, such as ocher for mendicants and saffron for auspicious occasions and valor.The colorful pagri (turban) is essential to men's attire and reflects the valor and chivalry of Rajput warriors. The colors and styles can denote the wearer's social status and community

10. The Nepali Topi - Birkhe from North East India:

Nepalese cap. www.pinterest.com
Description: Traditional caps like the dhaka topi or birkhe topi, made of fabric with various prints. Significance: Worn on important occasions like weddings and festivals, it reflects cultural heritage.

11. Perak- The Fine Headgear of Ladakhi Women:

Ladakhi woman with ahead gear
Description: A headgear made of black lamb skin studded with turquoise stones, worn by Ladakhi women.Significance: Signifies beauty and social status, covering the head like a cobra’s hood.

12. The Colorful  Kullu- Pahari Topi:

Description: Topis with maroon and green colors, representing the artistic talent of the local people.
Significance: A symbol of pride, often presented to guests and worn during weddings and festive occasions.

13. Angami Tribal Cap:


Description: A wide-brim hat made of bamboo, worn by the Angami tribe.
Significance: Reflects the craftsmanship and cultural practices of the Angami people, worn during traditional activities

14. Karakul (or Qaraqul) hat:


Description: A triangular hat made from the fur of the Qaraqul breed of sheep, commonly worn by men in Kabul.
Significance: Historically worn by Afghan royalty and symbolizing traditional Afghan heritage.

These headgears are not just functional items but carry deep cultural, social, and spiritual meanings, reflecting the rich diversity of Indian traditions.

Read more at:



A Sikh’s Dastaar or Pagrirobertharding.com

The Traditional Mysori Turban - Petashopclues.net

Imamah- The Muslim Turbankangaswad.files.wordpress.com


The Colourful Safa From Rajasthanflickr.com- C├ęcile C

The Nepali Topi- Birkhe from North East Indianotonthehighstreet.com

The Colourful Caps from Kullu- Pahari Topipintrest.com

Jacobs, J., The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India, Thames & Hudson, 1990.ource