Sindhi Hat (Topi)and Ajrak (shawl)
The Sindhi people are extremely proud of their hats. Even in Lahore, the heart of Punjab, Sindhi people are seen wearing these hats. It is also a sign of Sindhi nationalism.
Sindhi Culture Day
The origins of the Sindhi hat are shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that the Sindhi hat was actually introduced to the region by the neighboring Baloch people. The close proximity and trade between the two people resulted in exchange of culture between the two. The Baloch people would wear a turban upon the cap. The Sindhi people would originally also wear it the same way but over time the Sindhi modified it to better suit their environment and culture. The turban was abandoned, while the hat would become a central part of the Sindhi culture.
In the 18–19th centuries, the people of good standing would cover their heads. Hats, turbans and cloth were used for this purpose. The rich and people of high status were expected to cover their heads in such a manner. Those that did not were considered people of low status.
The Sindhi hat over the years has had several different types of fashion. In the days of the British Raj there was the era of silk hats, the age of collyrium and the era of golden threads. Over the centuries the fashion of the Sindhi hat has evolved into what it is today.
I will end this with pictures of different Sindhi hats.
Ajrak can be called the identity of Sindh and Sindhi people. Ajrak is a symbol of pride and respect for men and glory for women. Sindhi people also present Ajrak as gesture of hospitality to their guests.
The level of geometry on the garment comes from the usage of a method of printing called woodblock printing in which prints were transferred from geometric shapes etched on the wooden blocks by pressing them hard on the fabric.
The tradition still prevails centuries later, and people still use the same methods of production that were used in the earlier days to create an ajrak. The garment has become an essential part of the Sindhi culture and apparel of Sindhis. Men use it as a turban, a cummerbund or wind it around their shoulders or simply drape it over one shoulder. Women use it as a dupatta or a shalwar and sometimes as a makeshift swing for children. Ajraks are usually about 2.5 to 3-meters long, patterned in intense colours predominantly rich crimson or a deep indigo with some white and black used sparingly to give definition to the geometric symmetry in design.
Ajraks are made all over Sindh, especially in Matiari, Hala, Bhit Shah, Moro, Sukkur, Kandyaro, Hyderabad, and many cities of Upper Sindh and Lower Sindh.
The ajrak is an integral part of Sindhi culture. Its usage is evident at all levels of society, and is held in high esteem, with the utmost respect given to it. According to Sindhi traditions, ajraks are often presented as gifts of hospitality to guests and presented to the person who is utterly respectable. They are also worn on festive occasions such as weddings and cultural events. Many prominent politicians from Sindh publicly wear ajraks, including the deceased former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto.
The most commonly observed pattern in Ajrak blocks and hence the fabric is dots between two lines, these dots are of same radius in almost all the design. These dots were initially carved out by hands, however later on brass nails were used to fill spaces between the two walls. This aspect is crucial in determining the expertise of the artisan.
Mughal era has a deep influence on these designs. The Muslims followed a sense of strong geometry in their patterns and most patterns were formed by the interaction of two or more circles. The Ajrakh blocks were designed taking inspiration from the Muslim architectural elements that form the ‘Mizan’ – balance and order. The repeat patterns were determined by the grid system. Abstract symmetric representation of surrounding elements and environment were used