Dance hat

These dance hats (30/1907, 31/1907, 34/1907) have been grouped together because they are fundamentally all of the same type with minute variations in decoration if applicable. These hats are composed of red plaited cane woven to form a conical shape. On each hat is a strap originating from the top to secure the hat under the chin. All the hats were donated by William Ninnis Porter and can be dated to the late 1800s, if not earlier, however, the exact provenance is unknown. Images of these hats have been looked at by Jamie Saul who recently wrote a book called the ‘Nagas in Burma’. He suggested that ‘the heavy cane work hats are also Tangkhul and form the base for the wonderfully decorated hats they wore for ceremonies’ (Pers. Comm. 2006). However, if plain they could have been worn for war. Hat 30/1907 has remains of animal hide decoration used to cover the strap situated on top of the hat. Hat 34/1907 is decorated with two plumes of red hair, which is likely to be dyed goat’s hair. Examples of different forms of Naga decoration can be seen in ‘The Nagas, Hill Peoples of Northeast India’ (Jacobs 1998: 222-227).

Object Summary

Museum Number 31/1907
Simple Name accessory
Full Name dance hat
Common Name dance hat
Production country Myanmar
Material cane; vegetable fibre
Collection class Clothing and accessories
Collection continent Asia
Collection area/region SE
Production continent Asia
Function name headwear