Kamran Brohi's Blog

An Academician & Researcher

Posts Tagged ‘Sindhi Culture

History of Sindhi Topi (Cap) (سنڌي ٽوپي جي تاريخ)

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If we march along the course of history due to opulence and generosity of Sindh different communities of the world has been moved here, the majority among out comers were Persian, Greek, Arab, Aryans, Turkhan, Mongols, Dutch, French, English etc: this cruel course of history is continue even today, because the advent of nomadic nations and gipsy communities from different parts of the earth and outside provinces or bordering countries toward Sindh is never stopped. Sindhi people not only welcomed the wandering visitors used to come here from different regions of the world through ages but also impressed them with loving behavior and warm hospitality on such scale that mainstream among the infiltrators preferred to live here rather than to go back their respective homelands. Every traveling family, ethnic group or nation which moved around here, carried their ways of life, like traditions, values, rites, rituals, culture, folklore, dwelling systems, ideologies, beliefs, philosophies etc: along with them, the inhabitants of Sindh patronized those all cordially, while among the guests who went back to their respective native soils sponsored communal values, spiritual stuffs and cultural principles of Sindh amid them.

Arab traders accustomed sugar candy in Sindh and took horns of rhinoceros from here to sell in China . Al-Mehlib (the Arabian tribe) transported Hens and Buffaloes of Sindh toward Iraq and China , Arabs also carried prey dogs from Sindhi soldiers as a tribute. These people furthermore carried betel leaf from here and harvested in Oman whereas they brought seeds of taramid tree from Basra . People of Sindh learned honey making process, agriculture of dot tree and making of sweet meal with dot palms from Arabs. The Persians brought perfume, olive and water lily from Khurasan, pomegranate is also Persian gift and they in addition gave us seeds of bringal. Grapes have been planted here during the era of Abbasid dynasty, British carried kernel of orange from here
In divine book “Touret” is written that “Suleman brought Peacock, musk, gold and rhinoceros from Sindh”. In 808 AD a doctor named Manik has been called upon for treatment of incurable disease of Abbasi Caliph Haroon Rasheed, after completing successful treatment, Sultan appointed him chief supervisor of the royal hospital at Baghdad .

During the era of Yehya Bermki a Sindhi physician named Ibn-e-Dhanna had been appointed an administrative officer at the hospital of Baghdad, this man introduced there Sindhi method of treatment. During invasion of Alexander the great on Sindh the king of Alor gifted him medicine of snake bite whereas a pair of yellow pigeons was presented him by a monarch.
During this era Greek learned the treatment of poisons and herbal knowledge from Sindhi doctors. They also carried Sindhi cotton (cloth) from here of which they praised in their books as “Sindhin”, whereas method of teaching and art left by Greeks is part of Sindhi culture even today.
In this way due to exchange (which extracted through the ages) of different customs, traditions, things, assets, national and religious values of guest companies Sindh became lodging of complex civilization and ideologies. Though such happenings smashed up the original characteristics of Sindhi culture but also became beneficial with the exchange of rich cultural heritages of the different nations of the world.
Such changes and exchanges were not bound only with overseas or distant populations but were usual with bordering nations, among such other civilizing interactions a beautiful piece of cultural art is Sindhi Cap which was introduced among Sindhi natives from neighboring Baloch people.
A reason regarding the convey of Balochi cap among Sindhi people was that northern areas of Sindh is bordered with Baluchistan, for that basis the replacement of every aspect of life was order of the day.
That time Balochi people used to wear turban upon the cap, copying them Sindhi people also patronized the method, though this has been ended now but in few remote regions of the both provinces same style is still prevailing, whereas in some areas cap has been taken away from turban and on some vicinities load of turban has been suspended. Unfortunately by and large both nations has now thrown away turban and cap from the head thinking these unreasonable weight or out of fashion thing what were once sign of respect, personality and pride.

During the eighteen and nineteenth century AD, covering head with turban, cap or cloth was considered as a sigh of soberness among the people of Sindh and Balochistan, while uncovered head was measured as social indulgence, therefore according to their status people always keep their heads covered. In most few areas of both provinces the men with uncovered skull had been prosecuted, fined or socially boycotted, even today in many regions around Pakistan the concept of head covering is respectfully accustomed.
During its early phase two type of caps has been used to cover heads, one made by sewing two folds of white cloth, its four sides had been circular with which complete forehead could be covered, pious and religious people like to wear that. Second kind of cap was prepared by silk and golden fibers (threads), curved with beautiful embellishment and ornamented with pieces of glasses to extend its sober attire. This cap has been incised from forehead in the way (like half moon) that both curving corners touches right and left mandible.
By the time many changes has been commenced into style plus crafts of cap, hardness and softness of cloth etc:, keeping the seasons of the year in view numerous alterations has also been brought in, like some times increasing pearls with glasses and some times decreasing those.
Transaction of cap from Baloch to Sindhi people also seen several innovations seemingly correlated with Sindhi culture and the time came this cap has merged with particular Sindhi dress, sober structure, walking style etc: and called “Sindhi Cap. In any part of the Pakistan if you see some one worn Sindhi cap he must be thought Sindhi or resident of Sindh.
Making of Sindhi cap is like constructing a building where there is base, walls, floor, roof, color, plaster etc: plus the periods of polish and shining also. There are five styles of cap, round (circular), four cornered, fancy, betel leaf shaped and the cap having different designs. Prevailing style of cap has been passed from three different phases of its evaluation.

Silky Era

Before the partition of sub-continent best kind of silk had been imported from Kashmir with which Sindhi cap makers designs the cap and decorated ornamentation of different things as pieces of plastic, pearls, glasses etc: to create fine-looking caps. Such caps have been mostly worn under the turban in such style that cap peeps out of the turban like hump of bullock or camel. That was not similar to the rounded cap prevailed today but was cut from forehead like half moon, this kind of cap has almost been outdated.

Phase of Collyrium

The cap of this period was different than that of silky one because collyrium has been used instead of glittering golden threads or pieces of glasses. Cap producers create such beautiful lines, decoration and flowering designs with collyrium on cloth (mostly silk) of different color that having seen their art heart filled in high spirits. Lines of collyrium glittered in the light of sun as strips of phosphorus written behind the vehicles, reflects back the beams when head light of other vehicles thrown on those during dark. Top (roof) of the cap had been decorated with interesting geometrical figures like, half, circular, rectangular, four-cornered, oblique, moon, sun, and stars etc.
These caps were not very durable because after became dirty if washed, the grayish color and shining went away, in this way after three or four time cleaning no where to found its beauty.

Phase of Golden threads

Two or three folds of cloth have been used in this kind of cap which was made inflexible by using hard cloth between the folds. The cap had been incised in orchid shape at its opening, in a way that complete head covered whereas the forehead remained open.
With the passage of time keeping in view the disposition of wearer plus needs of modern world, new styles and designs has been introduced, as some times striking with national movements designing the map of Sindh, national slogans plus flag, figures of national heroes, axes, mosques, tombs, old and new geometrical shapes, Ajrak (Sindhi shawl) etc: has been designed. Though many changes have been introduced in the industry of cap making but not much difference can be found between old and new Sindhi cap.

like other cultural heritages of Sindh nothing has been done for the development and maturity of Sindhi cap or its makers, neither any step has been taken by government missionaries nor private institutions or social organizations did anything, rather they has been denied and distorted by the authorities.
Forgetting the cultured character of our cap in sociology, history and literature we bounded its use only on special occasions or gatherings like marriage. In spite of this state of rejection regarding this art, cottage industry of Sindhi cap making is with us winning all interferences in the travel of times, present life and conservation of this skill goes to the genuine struggle of Sindhi and Baloch women whose are more effective and active than male artists. Nonetheless, due to introduction of modern technology manual work has effected on great scale even though a class among new generation of cap lovers mostly like to wear the cap made of hand.
Wherever is education around the globe, the nations of world are busy to save their national and cultural heritages, whether it is in form of archaeology, history, dress, language, literature, land etc: but among us where rays of education reached, our cultural and traditional heritages has been ignored and destroyed there. Thus the tradition of cap wearing has mostly remained only in less educated and northern districts of Sindh like Larkana, Jacobabad, Dadu, Shikarpur and Nawabshah, but the percentage of its use has been decreasing day by day.
Though the past of Sindhi nation is excellent but present is alarmingly worse, its current generation has became prey of Europe like other nations of the Pakistan . Due to infiltration of borrowed schooling syllabus and conquest of foreign media and being victim of downfall against foreign civilizations we are destroying our national heritages and cultural legacies with our own hands Sindhi cap is also among those.
In this connection we should have to be grateful the poor and amateurish section of our society who has protected this cultural heritage because they think it sin to uncover their heads, in this state of affairs the cultured legacy of Sindhi cap can be claimed by this group because they are not only makers of the cap but also protectors of expertise and exercise.

Source: Dr.N.A Baloch Institute for Heritage Research