Astrakhan is the skin of the KaraKul lamb, which is originally from Russia. The astrakhan fabric was widely used in the making of cuffs, collars and hats until the 19th century. In the 20th century, the term astrakhan started being used for both lambskin and new synthetic fabrics that mimic that skin. Currently, the astrakhan fabric is used for making coat details and for making jackets themselves.

In addition to being widely used in details and clothing, it was also used in the manufacture of accessories, in particular, the hat. Of this type of accessory, the Montera hat, a type of hat worn by Spaniards, better known as the bullfighter’s hat, and also the type of hat known as Busby, used in the military by some western countries, stand out.

Very similar to the Busby is the Karakul hat and its regional variations, worn by Oriental and African men. In Africa, the caracul hat is known as a fur Kufi (a typical African hat), with its modeling being very similar to other models of the caracul hat. The Pakistani version of the Karakul hat is known as Jinnah, named after politician Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Karakul, like the Busby hat, is triangular and, when removed from the head, closes in a double layer of fabric.

Today, hats made from astrakhan are considered out of fashion in places like Afghanistan, but in places like the Caucasus, the papakha, a cylindrical hat made with the fabric in the region, is still widely worn by men. The Caucasian hat has two versions known as papakha and kubanka.

Other than those, there is also the Tubeteika hat, a type of hat made with astrakhan used in Central Asia and in some regions of Russia, which can be worn by men and women of all ages, and also has regional variations. Some of them have religious and symbolic meaning, often conveyed in the colors and patterns used to decorate the hat.

Astrakhan is also known as Agneau Rasé.

Bibliography: Allan, Georgina O’Hara; Fashion Encyclopedia: From 1840 to the 1990s: Companhia das Letras, 2010.

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