An initiative of Narrative Made, The Textile Atlas preserves a record of disappearing Asian crafts with their reflected cultural stories, and provides a resource platform for both the commercial industry and academia.

Traditions of: Fascinating Children’s Hats

Traditions of: Fascinating Children’s Hats

Words by Monique Derwig and Emily Lush, Photos by Monique Derwig

In many cultures, the ears are believed to be the source of life as well as an opening through which evil can enter into the body. Many traditional and ceremonial hats have ear flaps not only to shield the wearer from cold weather, but also to give extra protection to the ears.

In her book Fascinating Children’s Hats (2016), Monique Derwig brings us around the world to see how mothers embellish their child’s hats in order to protect and express love to their children.

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Below left: This hat from the border region of Afghanistan and North-West Pakistan has two long ear flaps to protect the ears from the harsh cold and to prevent evil spirits from entering the baby’s head. Decorated with yellow, red, white and blue beads, and an interlocking ball chain. Several coins from Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are sewn onto the top of the hat. All these items have protective values. The coins represent the parents’ desire for the child to have a life of wealth and good fortune.

Below centre: An Akha girl from Phongsali Province in northern Laos, wearing hat and dress decorated with many coins. Coins are placed on Akha hats as part of a girl’s dowry and a way to demonstrate the family’s wealth.

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Below right: Sometimes more than one protective item is incorporated into a baby’s hat. Natural objects, such as the ‘ekurdik’ – a parasite that grows on the stem of the mulberry tree and is believed to protect children against whooping cough – is found on this Tekke baby hat from Turkmenistan. This hat was purchased from near the border with Iran. The ekurdik, the different colours used and the grey and white cords represent a snake, offering the child protection.

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Monique Derwig is the author of Fascinating Children’s Hats (2016). She started collecting traditional headwear and children’s clothing in 2002, and now has a collection of more than 600 items from all over the world. Motivated by a great admiration for artisans and a desire to keep traditional textile culture alive, she makes an effort to learn skills from local women whenever she is travelling – such as Dong stitching in Zhaoxing, China (pictured below). Monique lives in Valkenburg, a small village in the south of the Netherlands.

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Making of: Kira, Tingma and Aikapur Weaving, Bhutan

Making of: Kira, Tingma and Aikapur Weaving, Bhutan

Making of: Lotus Weaving, Myanmar

Making of: Lotus Weaving, Myanmar