The songkok or peci or kopiah is a cap widely worn in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and southern Thailand, mostly among Muslim males. It has the shape of a truncated cone, usually made of black or embroidered felt, cotton or velvet. It is also worn by males in formal situations such as wedding feasts, funerals or festive occasions such as the Muslim Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Songkok came to be associated with Islam in Malaysia and the Philippines, while in Indonesia the peci is also associated with the nationalist secular movement.
It is called "songkok" in the Ethnic Malay cultural sphere in Malay peninsula, Sumatra, and coastal Borneo. However, in Java it is called "kopiah" or "kopeah". In Indonesia it also known nationwide as "peci". The name "peci" was probably derived from the Dutch word petje means literary "small hat", or probably derived from the Turkish fez instead. All names refer to the same object.
The origin of the songkok can be traced to the fez, which was adopted by the Ottomans in 1830 and subsequently spread to South Asia, from where it was introduced to the Maritime Southeast Asia including present day Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The songkok used to be worn during the Ottoman Empire and in some parts of Africa. One Brunei newspaper account erroneously states that the songkok became a norm in Maritime Southeast Asia around the 13th century with the coming of Islam in the region. The earliest written mention of the word songkok is in Syair Siti Zubaidah (1840). While traditional triangular Malay headress of tanjak or destar is associated with traditional Malay nobles and royalties, songkok on the other hand has become part of traditional Malay men's costume associated with Islam, traditionally worn by local ulamas.
The Malay Regiment have been using the songkok as part of their uniform since under British rule.
Traditionally songkok are associated with Muslim men's cap. However, in Indonesia, the songkok has become the national headress with secular nationalist connotations made popular by Sukarno. Numbers of Indonesian nationalist movement activist in early 20th century wore peci such as Sukarno, Muhammad Hatta, and Agus Salim. However, as the first president of Indonesia it was Sukarno that popularized peci — more precisely plain black velvet peci — as national men's cap of Indonesian, and Indonesian male presidents have worn peci as part of their official presidential attire ever since. Indonesian official palace guards also wore peci as part of their uniform. The Paskibraka (Indonesian: pasukan kibar bendera pusaka) or flag raising squad in Indonesian independence day ceremony also wear peci, and there is even female peci version with curved back.
In Malaysia, traditional male Malay attire consists of a songkok, shirt, matching pants, and waist wrap that is called a baju melayu. In a Dewan Undangan Negeri or in Dewan Rakyat, a member is required to wear the songkok in order to comply with the dress code of the assembly.
In Singapore, the songkok is not allowed to be worn in government schools as part of the uniform as Singapore is officially a secular state and all religious headgear is not allowed to be worn. It is part of the standard uniform at madrasahs (Islamic religious schools).
- Hendri F. Isnaeni (10 September 2010). "Nasionalisme Peci" (in Indonesian). Yahoo Indonesia News. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- The origin of the songkok or 'kopiah'
- Syair Siti Zubaidah MCP text
- Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research By Society for Army Historical Research (London, England)
- Yusep Hendarsyah (28 April 2011). "Peci Hitam dan Identitas Paling Indonesia". Kompasiana. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "Songkok: The Sulu Heraldic Cap". www.royalsultanateofsulu.com. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
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