Unique headdresses of the men of India

photo courtesy Raj Kumar

Previously I posted about interesting headdresses of different ethnic groups but those were always woman's headdresses. Today I want to correct the injustice and write about unique headgear that men wear and for the start it will be about men of India.
One of the most impressive headdresses are worn by the men of Nagaland. According to Nagas the head is the most important part of the human's body as one's soul dwells in there. The materials, colours, manufacture and the manner in which each Naga tribal headdress is worn distinguish tribe from tribe and bond the wearer to the ideal clan image.

Tangkhul Naga's impressive headdress (photo above) is decorated with red crab's eye seeds mostly. Additionally Job's-tears seeds, white glass beads, black human hair fringe and hornbill tail feathers are fixed to a cane work and cloth armature.

photo courtesy Raj Kumar

Chang Naga warriors wear plaited canework helmets ornamented with a hornbill tail feathers, goat or bear hair and two wild boar tusks. The chin strap is decorated with the ten claws of a tiger's two front paws that can only be worn by a successful head-hunter that the Nagas used to be.

photo courtesy  Linda de Volder

Angami Naga men wear a giant structure made of bamboo strips and cords of white cotton, topped with hornbill feathers.

photo courtesy Raj Kumar

The Koya, cattle-breeders in the border area of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, wear festive headdresses made from polished buffalo horns with attached cowrie shells veil in front of their faces to protect them from the evil eye.

photo courtesy Raj Kumar

Another interesting cowrie shells headgear from Orissa, topped with the image of a deer.

photo from here

In the Zanskar region of Ladakh an ancient ethnic tribe called Brokpa/Drokpa lives. They consider themselves the pure Aryans and the oldest inhabitants of this region. The Brokpa men (as well as women) can be easily recognized by the unique floral headdresses they wear not only during festivals but on everyday basis. Usually the flowers are fresh and collected and changed every day. But at "no flowers season" the artificial ones are also used. The further decoration may include rows of coins (some dating as far back as late 19th century) stitched together.

photo from here

During Hindu festival Kumbh Mela the holy men sadhu often dress up as god Shiva and some of them "build" significant headgear of their own hair and rudraksha beads. These beads are the seeds of the sacred rudraksha tree, they are known as tears of Shiva which fell when he opened his eyes after years of meditation. Rudraksha beads have been worn by yogis to maintain health and gain self empowerment. It is supposed to free the wearer of all sins, grant knowledge, self realization, peace of mind, stimulate the mind, sharpen intellect, grant wealth, health, luck, power, prosperity and attain salvation.

photo courtesy Deepu Bhatia

Everybody knows that the Sikhs wear turbans. Well, nothing extraordinary about that. But there is a militarized wing of the Indian Sikhs called Nihang. Nihang is a Persian word meaning "mythical sea creature", and was given to the warriors by the Mughals, who said they fought as ferociously as the crocodiles. The Nihang style of round turban is known as dumala and there is a tradition of competing to see who can wear the largest. So Nihang elders are known for their really big turbans. In some cases using the word "big" would be an understatement. According to Guinness World Records, in 2010 a Nihang called Major Singh wore a 400 metre turban that weighed a neck-straining 35 kilogram.

As we could see men are no less creative in decorating themselves then women. Do you have any favourites?

Related posts Traditional headdress of the women of Brittany
Perak - a traditional headdress of the Ladakhi women


  1. I'm amaized by these head pieces :) The last one looks like a huge pillow :) #5 seems very elaborate too. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Fascinating! All of these headdresses are stunning and creative and that gigantic turban is amazing.

  3. The last pics is awsome! Btw another interesting post =D I love fashion but not only "our" fashion ideas, i mean the world of luis vuitton and chanel ecc...i love everything concerned with beauty ALL OVER THE WORLD! I'm studying japanese and sometime we face topics like how the kimonos of the princesses were differt than those of the "maids", how the colours had differet meanings ecc so your posts are always a new happy discovery for me!


  4. Thank you for the valuable information. It was a great help for my academical studies..