Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chechias (1)

The chechia is the national hat of Tunisia and a close cousin of the beret. In Tunisia, eastern Libya and the region of Benghazi (where it is called "chenna") the chechia is a vermilion (red) skull cap shaped hat, while in the rest of Libya it is black.
Until the 19th  century, the chechia was usually worn as a basis for the turban; the cloth was wound around the cap on the head. Last century it started to become a hat on its own accord, becoming the typical trademark of Tunisian men.

The chechia, which is flexible, is not to be confused with the fez (also called "fez Stambouli" or "fez megidi") which is rigid, conical and more a top hat.

At the synagogue 

The chechia was also adopted by various regiments of French African troops, including the zouaves.

Since Tunisian independence in 1956 and thanks to cheap imports and young people distancing themselves from the old ways, the chechia is in decline, worn only by the old men and on special (religious) occasions. Interestingly, not only as a head covering for Muslims, but typically worn by Tunisian Jews as well. Few sons take over the family business and the old (and complicated) art of making chechias is slowly becoming extinct.

Jews from the island of Djerba

South Pacific Berets now stocks these beautiful hats. All our chechias are completely hand made, according to age old tradition by artisan chechia maker Troudi Belhassen from the  souk Chaouachyya inTunis, Tunisia. 

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