Jaapi is made of tightly woven bamboo and/or cane and tokou paat (Trachycarpus martianus a large, palm leaf. Generally taku paats are used for shelter roofing and jaapi). The name, jaapi comes from jaap, bundle of taku leaves. Earlier, jaapis were very important for ordinary Assamese while decorative jaapis were worn by people of high station (royal and high class families). Decorative sorudaya jaapis are made with intricate designs out of cloth (primarily red, white, green, blue, and black) that is integrated with the weaving of the jaapi. Typical pieces feature a red border. It has been in use since the days when the great Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang came to Assam. Visitors were welcomed with japi, decorated with colourful designs and motifs.
It is worn on the head as a protection against the elements, offered as a sign of respect in ceremonies, as well as placed as a decorative item around the house (especially near the front door as a welcome sign), integrated in a style of Bihu dance and as a symbol representing Assam.