The Afghan Leader’s Hat Is Losing Its Cachet

January 17, 2011 at 6:42 am | Posted in Baseball caps, NFL Caps | Leave a comment
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It already admiring the annual of trendsetters in the West, the jests of comedians at home and abroad, and the somewhat barren ire of beastly rights advocates.

Hamid Karzai’s hat, while still durably on the Afghan president’s arch whenever he appears in public, is no best absolutely the attribute it already was.

Known as a karakul hat (NFL Caps), and fabricated of the coat of fetal or bairn lambs of the karakul brand of sheep, commonly it was something beat by Tajiks and Uzbeks from arctic Afghanistan. When Mr. Karzai, a Pashtun from the turban-wearing south, took appointment in 2002, the karakul hat was allotment of his attack to devise a apparel that was Afghan rather than indigenous or regional.

It was a move broadly accepted at the time, in Afghanistan and abroad. The American artist Tom Ford alleged the Afghan admiral “the chicest man on the planet.” Afghans searching for civic symbols afterwards decades of indigenous affray aggressive a active barter in the hats, fabricated of lambskins from Mazar-i-Sharif in the arctic and ancient by Kabul’s hatters, whose shops lined both abandon of Shah-e-do Shamshera Wali Road.

Now, a attenuated presidential acclamation later, and with efforts to accomplish a absolutely multiethnic government foundering, the burnish is off the shimmery fur headwear.

Young men no best abrasion it; Mr. Karzai’s adversary in the aborted acclamation runoff, Abdullah Abdullah, a northerner, adopted a hatless suit-and-tie ensemble. All but 12 of the hatters shops accept bankrupt on Shamshera Road, aswell acclaimed for its altar covered in pigeons. Those actual say they are advantageous to advertise a hat a day.

“I went aback to my apple in Logar acid my karakul hat,” said Ahmed, an Afghan in his 50s, who was arcade for a new hat, “and humans laughed: ‘There goes the old man who thinks he’s president.’ ” It was not bright which affronted him more, “old” or “president.”

“Hamid may be the alone guy in Afghanistan acid that accurate affectionate of hat,” said a column on a abusive Web site,, “but all the aforementioned the pointy absolute chapeau has arise to betoken the country to the blow of the world.”

Just as Mr. Karzai’s hat is added than just a hat, the acknowledgment adjoin it is added than just a appearance whim. “It would accept been bigger if he just wore a turban. It would accept been added honest,” said Rahnaward Zariab, a biographer and cultural analyst on Tolo TV in Kabul. “Instead he bamboozled the nation. The apparel of Karzai doesn’t beggarly anything; it’s not a attribute anymore. Now we are seeing his actions, and it’s bright now that he is a Pashtun.”

Mr. Zariab complained that there were almost few non-Pashtuns in Mr. Karzai’s new cabinet, which is yet to be absolutely accustomed by Parliament.

Efforts to accost a animadversion from the admiral on his headgear met with no success, and slight annoyance. “Everything abroad is accomplished with,” said his spokesman, Waheed Omer, “Now you’re traveling to address about the hat?”

Mr. Karzai himself once, at a aggressive commemoration in Kabul, explained his amore for the karakul hats. “I abrasion them because they are very, actual Afghan,” he said, according to an Associated Press account. “And if it looks good, all the better.”

Among the hatters, at least, the admiral still gets babble reviews for his acceptable taste. He is aswell one of their best customers.

Mr. Karzai’s amore for the karakul hat is so able that, if the hatters’ accounts are to be believed, he has purchased dozens of them back demography office. Sayed Habib Sadat, buyer of one of the actual hat shops abreast the shrine, says he has awash Mr. Karzai 15 karakul hats in assorted shades, mostly the aphotic gray he prefers, but aswell blacks, and blotchy brown-and-whites.

“The admiral is bringing the old traditions calm and assuming people: ‘I’m an Afghan. I’m application my own tradition,’ ” Mr. Sadat said. “It’s been acceptable for him, and for us.”

Karakul hats are not cheap; acceptable ones advertise for hundreds of dollars, and some can reportedly amount up to $3,000.

The added big-ticket ones are fabricated from the banknote of lambs taken from the abundant ewe just afore birth, by acid accessible her abdomen, sometimes while she is still alive. Less cher are those fabricated from lambs dead anon afterwards delivery; because karakul sheep are acutely careful of their young, that generally agency slaughtering both together, or forcibly amid them.

The boner aboriginal palpitates the abdomen of the ewe, activity the hooves of the fetus; if they are hard, that agency a decidedly acceptable lambskin if it is harvested pre-partum.

A individual lambskin makes one hat. Aboriginal the derma is sewn into a cylinder. Then it is continued over a head-shaped mold, or qalib, carved from a block of copse from a mulberry tree. Finally, the hats are formed into their ellipsoidal appearance with a angled river stone.

The added big-ticket are decidedly bendable and flat, with the arrangement of moiré cottony and a buttery nap, abiding in fine, blooming ridges. Sometimes those ridges assume to spell out the name of Allah in Arabic, which makes them decidedly valuable. On attenuate occasions they may even arise to spell out, in Arabic, the Kalimah or Muslim acknowledgment of acceptance — “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet” — authoritative them even added dear.

That does not, however, attach them to the religious authorities. Because the sheep is not dead in the way assigned by Islam, the hat and even the meat of the sheep from which it is fabricated are haram, or forbidden.

When Mr. Karzai orders a hat, the hatters are summoned to the Presidential Palace to admeasurement his arch personally. “When I aboriginal fabricated him a hat, he was admeasurement 22 ½ inches,” Mr. Sadat said. “Now he’s 23 ½ inches.” Other hatters appear agnate measurements, accord or yield bisected an inch.

Mr. Sadat said Mr. Karzai was not different in this regard. He recalled Noor Mohammed Tarakai, Afghanistan’s aboriginal antipathetic admiral in 1978, who aswell went from a 22 inch hat (Baseball caps)admeasurement to 23 inches, and that was during a abundant beneath appellation in office; he was assassinated afterwards a year, reportedly by smothering.

“Presidents get bloated heads,” Mr. Sadat said.

An beforehand adaptation of this commodity misidentified Tom Ford as a British designer. He is an American designer.


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