Karakul: A unique symbol of Kashmiri culture and tradition

9 December, 2022 | Pravina Srivastava

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The term "Qaraqal" refers to the traditional headgear worn by the inhabitants of Kashmir. It is regarded as Kashmir's regal headgear and represents honour and dignity to Kashmiris.

The term “Qaraqal” refers to the traditional headgear worn by the inhabitants of Kashmir. It is regarded as Kashmir’s regal headgear and represents honour and dignity to Kashmiris.

The word “Karakul” means a sheep of an Asian breed with a dark curled fleece when young. This headgear is fashioned from sheep and goat wool, as the name would imply. This headgear crafted from Karakul lamb skin is highly well-liked in Kashmir. This fur has a glossy sheen, a velvety feel, and a soft, curly texture.

A headgear may cost anywhere between Rs 6,000 and Rs 30,000, depending on the leather’s quality.

Experts claim that Karaqli originated in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, travelled through Central Asia, Afghanistan, and finally into Kashmiri culture.

It has been noted that the majority of mainstream politicians like Karakul hats. A Kashmiri man may frequently exchange his dastar for a Karakul cap while waiting for his wife to arrive at his in-laws’ home.

The 125-year-old retailer of this special cap is known as “John Cape House,” and it is located in Srinagar’s Nawan Bazar neighbourhood.

There are three main kinds of this specific cap, according to Muzaffar John, who is currently the fourth generation to produce them. First is the Jinnah style, followed by Afghan karakul and Russian karakul.