Saturday, March 31, 2012

Learnin' about my treasures, or "I has a fez!"

Only the very coolest among you will know why I'm so happy to have procured for myself a fez, but the reason is simple: Fezzes are cool.  Just ask this guy:
Thanks to for the image!

And can I just say that this is not just any old fez I have found.  This is a super duper old fez, apparently.  At the Value Village Last Wednesday of the Month Half Off Sale (sorry, but yes, I do have to capitalize it.  It's a holiday, like Big Trash Day), I spotted some nice men's vintage hats behind the counter and bee-lined in their direction because, as you know if you've been playing along at home, I can't keep them in the booth.  Now, I am thrilled with the two non-fez hats I got as well, but the fez... well, first of all, it was way cheaper.  At half price, I paid $2.95 for the fez.  I feel good about telling you this because, like my favorite vintage dress, I will be keeping this little red gem for myself.  It already looks jaunty hanging on my wrought iron lamp, don't you think?

Check it out - my very own fez!

What's interesting is that while someone decided to donate his fez to a thrift store, he also left a little note inside:

Note reads "Genuine Fez Hat from Cairo Egypt  1947". 

It's a little moth-eaten in a few spots, but I think that just adds to the character.  It's felted wool stretched over a woven straw form with a band of leather inside where it would touch your forehead, and a silk tassle attached to a sort of "tail" of the wool in the center of the top.  The "ceiling" of the inside of the hat is a very cool sort of blue-green woven fabric - you can kind of see it above, along with one edge of a label in the center: a sort of eight-sided star with arabic writing inside across the top and across the bottom it says "Tarbouche Zawati".  In between the words is a heart.  Being the curious sort that I am, I asked old man Google what he knew about my fez, and it turns out that "tarbouche" is the name of the (shh!) not-quite-fez kind of hat this actually is.  From

tarboosh , tarbush or tarbouche  (tɑːˈbuːʃ) 
 — n
a felt or cloth brimless cap resembling the fez, usually red andoften with a silk tassel, worn alone or as part of a turban by Muslim men

By this I have inferred that Zawati was the name of the maker of said tarbouche.  I also found one reference in a buyer's ebay feedback to some 'advert labels' for Tarbouche Zawati from 1922, a 5 year old sale page for a 'fez' just like mine on Worthpoint where the seller thought they had a Mason's or Shriner's hat, and this, from the website of a graphic designer:
This is definitely the label in my hat!

And last, and most excellently, a really crummy picture and a good description of a sadly squashed version by the same maker, apparently from 1918, on the website of the Marlborough Museum (in New Zealand!)'s Collection of Hats, Gloves and Handbags.

So what I think I know is that in 1947, someone went to Cairo and got a fez that was made either at that time or previously, by a maker who was making them as far back as 1918, and no longer exists except in 4 (now 5, including this one right here!) references on these here interwebs.  And some time recently, that person or a descendant/loved one thereof, donated his beloved fez, including in it a note that was either written to the future buyer (me!), or written at some point in the past for a kid's show-and-tell or some other random reason and left inside for me to find.

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