Circa late 20th century child's natiyo or hood of the Indus Kohistan, north-west province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Northern Pakistan.
Black cotton base with glass beads, plastic buttons, extremely fine hand embroidery specific to the women of this region consisting of cross stitch and satin stitch. Lined in printed cotton. Note: 2 animal teeth attached at centre front of the brow. These hats are amulet and believed by Kohistanis to protect a child's vulnerable head from bad spirits.
Traditional embroidery of this fine quality is slowly disappearing as traditional clothing is being replaced by cheap Chinese printed fabrics.
This cap is a very special and rare piece and one of my most treasured finds. Embroidery is produced by women in panels and strips and then made up into caps or added to dresses (jumlo). This cap has a reinforced crown which is made by inserting slivers of wood into grooves made by stitching. The entire piece is extensively embroidered in traditional fine tent or satin stitch and embellished. Structurally the stiffened crown is ringed with a broad embroidered band and sewn to this this is a flowing diamond shaped back panel that drapes over ears, neck and upper back. The entire hood is stitched with white seed beads that from each section of embroidery. Plastic buttons ring the crown along with triangular beaded detail, small sequins, gold buttons, gold seed beads, metal zips and star-staped metal buttons with tiny transparent bead centres. The two teeth attached to the centre front crown are an extremely rare addition. Lower head, sides and back panel are filled with intricate, geometric cross and darning stitched designs forming ancient ram's heads, diamonds and star-like motifs worked in silk threads of red, green, gold and blue. The hood is lined with floral printed cotton. Kohistani children's hats are worn constantly in the harsh mountain climate, the ear flaps and/or long back panels safeguard the most vulnerable areas of the head.
Various styles of hat and helmet are still worn by children in the high valleys of Indus Kohistan. These areas are difficult for tourists to visit due to unstable feudal politics.