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Pakol (Persian: پکول‎, Hindi: पकोल, Tajik: Паколь),[1] is a soft round-topped men's hat, typically of wool and found in any of a variety of earthy colours: brown, black, grey, or ivory, or dyed red using walnut.[2] Before it is put on, 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.


Boy wearing a kausia (ancient Macedonian cap). Terracotta, made in Athens, ca. 300 BC

Pakol is remarkably similar to the ancient Macedonian kausia hat, worn by men in ancient Southeast Europe.[3][4] According to Bonnie Kingsley the kausia may have came to the Mediterranean as a campaign hat worn by Alexander and veterans of his campaigns in India[5] but according to Ernst Fredricksmeyer the kausia was too established a staple of the Macedonian wardrobe for it to have been imported from Asia to Macedonia.[6] The pakol gained popularity in Nuristan a few centuries ago. It is now also very commonly worn in Chitral, Swat and Dir in Pakistan and exclusively to these people around that similar region, as it is a staple of their ethnic background.


The origins of the cap are complex but the original source and production may have been in Chitral, Pakistan.[7][citation needed] Later Pashtuns of adjoining areas like Swat, Dir and Chitral in Pakistan adopted it.[7] In the 1980s, the pakol was worn by a special unit of the Afghan Mujahideen who fought against the Soviets. Ahmed Shah Masoud seems to have been influential in popularizing this headgear to be worn by the soldiers. The pakol owes its global celebrity to the Tajik-majority members of the Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan, who, following their leader Ahmad Shah Masoud, first adopted it as a standard item of their outfit. Since then this cap is famous in Afghanistan.[7][8]

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 woollen cylinder is then inverted and fitted onto a round wooden block. The rim of the woollen cylinder is then rolled up to the top. Today there are two varieties of cap: The white color cap is more popular and 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.

The pakol came into vogue in India in the 2000s, after Afghan refugees emigrated to Delhi and opened businesses selling pakols imported from Kabul.[9] The pakol's popularity also surged after actors in various Bollywood films sported the cap who have a connection to its ethnic background.[10]


  1. ^ Blackwood, 1968, William. Blackwood's Magazine, Volume 303. 
  2. ^ "Terrorism, power outages hit Chitrali Patti business hard". International The News. October 23, 2010. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  3. ^ Ian Worthington, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, Ventures into Greek history, p. 135, Clarendon Press, 1994
  4. ^ Liddell & Scott, καυσία
  5. ^ Kingsley, Bonnie M (1981). ""The Cap That Survived Alexander."". American Journal of Archaeology. 85: 39. 
  6. ^ Fredricksmeyer, Ernst (1986). "Alexander the Great and the Macedonian kausia". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. 116: 215–227. 
  7. ^ a b c Foschini, Fabrizio. "From Alexander the Great to Ahmad Shah Massoud: A Social History of the Pakol". Afghanistan Analyst Network. Afghanistan Analyst Network. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Saxena, Shivam (4 March 2015). "Inside Delhi's lil Afghanistan: Aroma of Kabuli pulao, murmurs in Dari". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 16 March 2018. Several shops run by Afghani refugees at Sharif Manzil now have flourishing businesses of imported carpets, pakol and karakuli caps (below), shawls and vasket (jackets). “We import these caps from Kabul. They are now becoming popular in India too,” says Sikander Khan, who runs a small garment shop in the area. 
  10. ^ "And Thugs Met Nemesis". Greater Kashmir. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2018. On my way for tuition to the Unique Academy at Zaina Kadal, one of the busiest marketplaces crowded with Tonga, I often spotted a couple of these known political goons sitting on a shopfront or the backseat of a Tonga puffing cigarettes cascading air around with cannabis aroma. One of them a hefty chariot driver donned in what has now been popularised by Bollywood films as ‘Pathani Suit’, ivory coloured ‘Pakol cap’, and golden thread Peshawari chappal known for his thoul (head fight) was evil personified. 

External links[edit]

  • 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.