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Jaapi, the hat like head gear, keeps significant importance in Assamese culture and society. Jaapi is one of those few names which any person from Assam think of when it comes to Assamese culture. Over the course of time Jappi has found it's own way from paddy fields to the aristocratic drawing rooms.

জািপ লাঠী িতয়িন,
েনিৰিব ঐ েনিৰিব,
এিৰবৈগ লািগেল িথৈয় িথৈয় মিৰিব!

"Don't ever forget Jaapi, stick and towel, or you will be in danger(dead)!"



In ancient days, Jaapi was mainly used as a hat by farmer and cowherds. But the size of the jaapi used to be very large and in the rainy climatic condition of Assam, it was very useful. It is much more comfortable to use than an umbrella for farmers. There were mainly two types of Jaapi. Haaluwa(Farmer) Jaapi and Gorokhiya(Cowherd) Jaapi. Haalwa jaapi used to be bigger in size than the Gorokhiya Jaapi. There are mention of Jaapi in history in the royal families too. A different compact colourful Jaapi was used by the ladies of royal families as head gear too.

The origin of Jaapi is not yet known accurately. Apart from North Eastern region, nothing similar to Jaapi is found in the rest of India. This provides strong reason to believe that Jaapi may have influences of Thai, Mongolian culture. But as there is no mention of the same in the history, so Jaapi is now a days considered to be indigenous attire of Assam. Jaapi has been refered in various traditional stories of Assam. It is also refered in various folk songs like Bihu also. So, though it's not known when exactly Assamese society started using Jaapi, but it can be confirmed that Jaapi has been used since ages.

Jaapi is built on a bamboo frame of six sticks angled unifromly. These sticks are given a cap like head space with another two circular bamboo rings. The frame is covered with layers of dried and folded Tokou (type of Palm tree) leaves. Fold is called 'Jaap' in Assamese. So it is believed that the 'Jaapi' word has come up from this 'Jaap' word only.

Though Jaapi has originated as farmers head gear, it has found it's places in various areas of Assamese society. Jaapi has become part and parcel of Bihu dancers. It's also used in various religious activities too. It's used an article of felicitation in Assam. With time Jaapi has changed it's looks too. From large Jaapi used by farmers, it has reduced it's size but rich colors in it. This colors created by colorful clothes of different shapes gives a spectacular look to Jaapi. These colourful Jaapis are used as beautiful wall piece or as show piece. These decorative Jaapis are finding places internationally in recent days.

Though Jaapi is losing it's usefulness, but slowly it's finding place in other areas of the society. Jaapi is now considered to be a symbol of Assamese culture. It's now being placed together with Gamosa as a traditional symbol of Assam.

Bihu dance of Assam by Diganta Talukdar

Jaapi in Bihu Dance - By Diganta Talukdar

You can discuss more about Jaapi in this forums.