A Pakol (sometimes spelled 'pakul') is a type of hat, similiar to a beret
. It's worn by men in Afghanistan
and parts of Pakistan
(where they often call it a Pathan hat b/c Pathan
s wear it also). It's adjustable, and is different from a beret in that it is rolled up on its sides. To loosen it, one simply unrolls the sides a little down the hat base until it fits properly. It's traditionally made of lamb's wool, and is about as comfortable as it is warm, which is to say it's both. I've been able to wear it in single-digit degree weather and my head stays warm and toasty, even overheating.
According to online sources, it probably originated in the Afghani province of Nuristan, which means land of light. The Afghan Mujahideen wore it when driving out the Soviets from 1979 through the 1980's, and I'm told the Northern Alliance wears it as well. It's not necessarily religious, however.
One Afghan seller writes: "Pakols are traditionally rolled using one's knee as a guide. You can also start rolling up the edges with the pakol on the head. Unroll the hat from shipping and begin at the bottom. Roll up to the top leaving enough fabric to form a flat 'pancake' shape on top of the crown of the head."
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