Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Hats (Pandita Hat)

Hats of the Himalayas

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Pandita Hat Description (below)
- Shapes
--- Rounded
--- Pointed
--- Funnel
--- Inward turned lappets
--- Upward turned lappets
--- Flat Folded
- Colours
--- Red
--- Orange
--- Yellow
- Rings
- Traditions
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

The most common style of hat, also the earliest, and believed to have originated in India, is the Pandita hat. The hat can be worn upright on the head, folded and laid across the top of the head, or again folded and placed over the right or left shoulder.

The hat is round in shape and tapers upward to either a conical appearance or alternately a shallow or sharp point. It covers the ears at the sides with long lappets which hang down over the shoulders. The lappets are sometimes folded inside with only a few inches extending down over the ears. Another variation found with the late Sakya and Ngorpa sculpture and painting is the lappets drawn up towards the front center of the rounded pandita hat and draped over the top with the ends of the lappets pointing behind the hat.

The pandita hat is common to all of the various traditions and schools of Himalayan Buddhism. Generally it is only worn by monks and signifies an advanced level of education such as an acharya or abbot. The pandita hat is the principle head covering of the Sakya, Shangpa, Jonang and Gelug traditions. For most traditions the hat is typically red.

In recent centuries the Sakya tradition has adopted the convention of folding the lappets upward and folding them over the crown of the hat creating a triangular banded appearance at the front of the hat. The Gelug tradition uses a yellow coloured Pandita hat borrowed from the preferred style of Shalu monastery.

Pandita Hat (monks only): Nyingma (red & pointed), Kadam (red), Sakya (red), Kagyu (red), Shangpa (red), Bulug (red, orange or yellow), Jonang (red or orange), Gelug (yellow & pointed)

Jeff Watt [added 4-2020]

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