Basketry weaving; fiber and gold; 3 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (8.9 x 19.1 x 16.5 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts and Lewis and Gemma Hall Gift, 2006 (2006.187)
This ceremonial hat was made in Sulawesi, Indonesia, in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and was created by weaving together a combination of vegetable fibers and gold thread or wire. It is one of a pair: one hat is executed in white and gold while the other is in a contrasting black and gold combination. In both cases, a band of gold containing a repeating interweave pattern rises to meet a white or black upper portion extending up to the crown. The top of each hat is finished with a roundel of gold weave, which radiates out from a small central hole.
Ceremonial headdresses (songkok) such as this one are derived from the Middle Eastern fez and are early forms of the black velvet hat (peci) that became an established headwear for men in Indonesia following the country's independence in 1945. The use of precious gold thread indicates the high status of the wearer.