Aside from the khukuri itself the Dhaka Topi ( DHah-kah Toh-pee) is likely the most well known Nepalese cultural item.
A Topi is a type of nepalese cloth cap that fits tightly around the top of the forehead, with the upper portion forming a truncated cone shape somewhat reminiscent of a fez. The proper style of wear is to collapse the top section slightly- giving a concave and slightly peaked appearance. These peaks are then rotated to either face forwards or slightly to the right or left.
This variant of topi utilises Dhaka- brightly coloured and intricately woven fabric that was originally imported from the Bangladeshi capital of the same name and was a means to display the style and wealth of the wearer. It originally rose to prominence during the mid 20th century and rapidly became a part of everyday wear for the people of Nepal- with local production of the fabric flourishing as a result and making its way into many other garments. These days it remains a crucial part of nepalese national dress and formal attire and daily wear for gentlemen. These hats are often sighted on politicians, officials and visiting dignitaries. Though modern loom technology has greatly increased the affordability of Dhaka a distinction in quality exists between hand woven dhaka, machine woven dhaka and printed dhaka. Other topi variants exist, such as the earlier kalo (black) topi which is associated with the Newari people. It is a plain, subtle black that often helps draw attention to the texture of the weave itself. These are increasingly popular with nationally minded Nepalese youth of today, even being worn by nepalese hiphop stars. These are often adorned with a crossed khukuri badge.
We have two styles of Dhaka Topi available:
The first is of a classic, bright and cheerful style that best typifies the headwear throughout its history. There are many different patterns of fabric that could be suitable, but they typically feature multiple bright colours from various parts of the spectrum interwoven to create strong geometric shapes and fine repeating patterns. A base white tends to permeate this style which can at times give a dull or pastel look, particularly with age. This has a more traditional vibe- perhaps worn by an older gentleman going about his business in the city, a man in a village working to provide for his family or a politician trying to appeal to or emulate these demographics and ideals.
The second is of a more modern, intense style that’s become popular in recent decades. These often have a base black colour and utilise metallic or shiny threads in new patterns that can include large chunks and patches of colour. This contrast can lead to a higher impact and are often worn by a more modern man to events, nights out or to the workplace- often paired with a western suit and sunglasses rather than a Daura Suruwal or traditional oufit.