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A pakol (Khowar/Pashto/Persian: پکول), also called pakul, khapol, kapor, Chitrali topi and the Afghan cap, is a soft, round-topped men's hat, typically of wool and found in any of a variety of earthy colors: brown, black, gray, or ivory, or dyed red using walnut. Before it is fitted, it resembles a bag with a round, flat bottom. The wearer rolls up the sides nearly to the top, forming a thick band, which then rests on the head like a beret or cap. It is seen as a hat of the Afghans including the Pashtuns, but also of other ethnic groups of the Hindukush mountain range such as Chitralis, Nuristanis and Shamaliwals of Afghanistan
The pakol is part of the culture of the Hindu Kush, and got its popularity during Afghan war when mujahideen members started using it, as it was an excellent alternative to the Pashtun turban. Today it has become an integral part of Afghan culture all over the world.
The hat may have originated in the Nuristan and Chitral regions. However, its ancestor is perhaps the remarkably similar ancient Macedonian kausia. It gained popularity among the northeastern Pashtun tribes in the early twentieth century. It is also popular among the Tajiks of shamali and Badakhshan, and is also worn in Gilgit–Baltistan including Hunza, and some northern regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
The patti is first sewn into the shape of a cylinder, about a foot or more long. One end of the cylinder is capped with a round piece of the same material, slightly wider than the cylinder itself. The woolen cylinder is then inverted and fitted onto a round wooden block. The rim of the woolen cylinder is then rolled up to the top. The flat top protrudes a little over the rolled-up edge to give the cap a tiny brim. Otherwise, all Afghan headwear, unlike Western hats, is brimless. This is because Muslims pray with their heads covered. A brimmed hat would interfere with the sajdah (act of prostration during prayers). The little brim of the pakol, however, presents no such problem.
In Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, the white color pakol is more popular and is sometimes worn with a peacock plume stuck in the folds, like a badge, on the front or the side of the cap. The deep blue and green of the peacock feather, set against the white of the cap, is quite eye catching.
Because of the woolen material, the pakol is basically a cold weather cap. In particularly chilly weather of Nuristan, the cap can be unrolled and pulled down over the ears, like a ski cap. Worn this way, it may look sloppy but is effective against the cold. The Afghan military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud is often shown in photographs wearing a pakol.
- "Terrorism, power outages hit Chitrali Patti business hard". International The News. October 23, 2010.
- Ian Worthington, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, Ventures into Greek history, p. 135, Clarendon Press, 1994
- Willem Vogelsang, 'The Pakol: A distinctive, but apparently not so very old headgear from the Indo-Iranian borderlands'. Khil`a. Journal for Dress and Textiles of the Islamic World, Vol. 2, 2006, pp. 149–155.
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