Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Black Hats & Blue Hats Main Page

Hats Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Teachers with Hats (below)
- Gifts of the Yongle Emperor
- Religious Traditions Hats
- Glossary: Hats of the Himalayas
- Confusions
- Others...

- Black Hats & Blue Hats
- Hats: Karma Kagyu

Teachers With Black/Blue Hats:
- Karma Pakshi, 2nd Karmapa
- Dorje Lingpa
- Deshin Shegpa, 5th Karmapa
- Shakya Yeshe
- Chokyi Gyaltsen, 1st Tai Situ
- Gyalwang Drugchen
- Chokyi Gocha, 4th Tai Situ
- Jatson Nyingpo
- Terdag Lingpa
- Tai Situ Black Hat
- Karmapa & Shakya Yeshe Black Hats
- Jetsun Dampa
- Changkya Rolpai Dorje
- Bhutan King
- Others...

- Colour
- Shape
- Ornaments
- Lappets
- Others...

There are three famous Tibetan & Mongolian teachers known for wearing a characteristic black hat. Two of the hats were gifts from the Chinese Yongle Emperor. The three teachers are the incarnation line of the Gyalwa Karmapas, Jamchen Choje Shakya Yeshe, founder of Sera Monastery, and Zanabazar (Yeshe Dorje). The black hat of the Karmapas has two different styles, simple and ornate. The simple black hat is made of cloth and considered a type of utility hat intended to be worn daily. The ornate and heavily jewelled hat is reserved for important religious gatherings and rituals. The hat of Shakya Yeshe is designed like a Five Buddha initiation crown, a hat commonly used in Vajrayana Buddhist rituals. The black colour on the hat of Zanabazar is from the thick trim and upturned flaps made of dark animal fur lining the inside and surrounding brim.

Less well known figures that have worn black hats are the founder of Nenying Monastery, Jatson Nyingpo, Tai Situpa, Terdag Lingpa Gyurme Dorje and Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen. Examples of these teachers wearing black hats can easily be found in painting.

There are also a small number of Nyingma and Kagyu teachers that appear in compositions wearing a blue or a blue/black coloured hat. Sometimes there is a coloured trim, such as red or yellow, or an upturned under flap that has a different and contrasting colour than the principal outside colour.

Jeff Watt 8-2014 [updated 8-2016, 5-2017]

(The images below are only a selection of examples).