Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Mongolian mystery hat

[UPDATE] Many thanks to Jeanette Murray from the Historical Sew Fortnightly Facebook group, who informed me this style of hat is known as a toortsog!

My hat

// Mongolian Hat. National Museum ofCopenhagen. Denmark
The original hat as shown on Pinterest

I saw the original hat on Pinterest.  It was tagged as 16th century and said to be in the Copenhagen Museum, but I haven’t been able to find it on their website.  Still, I’m pretty sure it is pre-1945 and therefore fair game for the Historical Sew Fortnightly, and I don’t have any doubts that it comes from somewhere in Central Asia.  I’ve seen similar looking Mongolian hats in pictures going back to the 14th century - see here or here, for example, or here.

This is my entry for HSF challenge 15: The Great Outdoors, because you don’t get much more “great outdoorsy” than Mongolia.

Despite having only one unreferenced photo to go on, I reckoned I could recreate the hat anyway.  It appears to involve six triangular panels that are rounded at the bottom.  These are sewn up into a cone, and then the lower edge of said cone is folded back to create the brim.  The grain of the fur looks like it goes toward the point of the cone, and it seems to sit better on the head that way, so that’s how I cut the fur.  The fur comes from an old coat which I suspect is made from rabbit pretending to be mink.  It was badly damaged (and therefore cheap) but a lot of the fur is still usable.

I chose not to copy the cloud pattern on the original hat because I didn't find any appropriate gold braid, and I can always add a cloud pattern later if I find the right braid.  There are plenty of Mongol Period pictures showing hats without cloud patterns, so it can't have been mandatory.

This is the pattern I drafted.

The knot on top of my hat is hemp cord, wrapped with silk fabric.  I very much doubt this is a period construction technique, but it looks better than synthetic cord on an obviously silk hat.  Hemp cord was available in Central Asia from the Neolithic; hemp has a long history of cultivation in this region, where it was used for both textile manufacture and medicine.

HSF Challenge: The Great Outdoors

Fabric: 0.4 meters of blue/green shot silk and a small amount of fur.

Pattern: Drafted myself based on the picture.

Year: Probably anywhere from the 14th century up to today, which is a very impressive cultural tradition when you think about it.

Notions: Silk thread; Turk's head knot made from silk-wrapped hemp cord.

How historically accurate is it?  I must stress here that this is a speculative reconstruction.  I haven’t seen this hat or one like it in person, so I don’t know if this is really how the hat was made.  I don’t know for sure what materials it was made from, though I’d say silk is the most likely fabric and rabbit fur should be plausible. 

However, the silk is *ahem* dupioni.  I know.  I like the colour, and it isn't too slubby, and I needed relatively stiff fabric.  I remember hearing, though I forget where, that shot silk was being produced in China from a very early date, so I think the colour is okay.

Hours to complete: Four or five, not counting research time.

First worn: Quite often for fitting and testing the pattern.

Total cost: Probably about $18.

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