How to wear a Kyrgyz hat

By Kara Van Malssen

Many of our backers will be receiving new hats in a few days. Once these packages arrive, the recipients will likely be wondering, “What is this funny hat?”

The hat is known as a kalpak, and is traditionally made of four panels of felt or sheepskin, embroidered with lovely patterns. It is worn primarily by men in Kyrgyzstan and is considered to be a symbol of the nation.

The next question you may ask yourself is, “How do I wear it?”

First, fold the bottom up about an inch to an inch and a half (2.5 to 3.5 cm). Next, unfold the front (where the embroidery is) a little bit, while raising the back a little higher. Play with it until you find the look you like. Some people like the front lowered all the way, and others like the front and back to be level. And voila! You look smashing!


Don’t look so skeptical, this is exactly how the locals wear it to the market!




And while you are here, why not have a listen to the sounds of the bazaar. (Please note that the F-word can be heard in this recording, when we discovered this table of meat covered in carnivorous wasps. Ew.)


I’m happy to report that there was a much more sanitary meat stand a little further up the way.

And for those of you who received tea as part of your reward, please meet your wise vendor. She had cures for every ailment. Unfortunately, we couldn’t understand what any of them were.


For those of you who received spices, your spice master (center) and friends are below. The spices are his homemade mix. Unfortunately, we have no idea what is in it. I actually took it to one of NYC’s largest spice shops to see if they could shed some light on the mix, and they basically told me they didn’t have a clue, “…chili powder, some herbs, and I have no idea what this thing is…” So it’s a mystery!


We’d love to see pictures of you in the hats, try your recipes using the spices, and learn what ailments the tea helped to cure! Post them to our Facebook page!