Black Peci

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Soekarno (and his peci) with John F. Kennedy

Yayah's father always prays in mosque. Every time he goes, he wears a black peci, a small hat as you can see in the picture. It makes Ara wanted it too. So with her little body and short hands, she looked like Unyil, main figure of a puppet show in Indonesia. We couldn’t stop laughing see that peci covered half of Kiara’s head.
Peci, Ayah-Bunda, is a common hat in Indonesia. Although, men in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and even southern Philippines and Thailand, also wear it. With its truncated cone shape and usually made of embroidered felt, black cotton or velvet, peci is also worn in formal occasion like in Islamic wedding feats by bridegroom, or in religion celebration like Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha.

That’s why, peci is associated with Islam. But of course, that's not perfectly correct. In Malaysia and the Philippines, maybe it is. But in Indonesia, peci is also a national headdress for men. It is popularized by Sukarno, the first president of Republic of Indonesia. He wore it in every protocols and international meetings.

The tradition of wearing black peci continues. All Indonesian male presidents wear it as important part of their official presidential uniform. So do their vice presidents and ministers. Not only for high officials, the Paskibraka or Pasukan Pengibar Bendera Pusaka (the Flag Raising Team) wear black peci too with a small Garuda brooch. Even the boys and girls share the same peci. Although the shape is a bit different with any common black peci.

It's a very famous traditional fashion in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the users usually are old men, which are 50 year old or above. You would rarely see Indonesian youngsters wear peci in daily life, except of course in Islamic schools. They would prefer modern hats. Maybe it's because they believe that peci can make them looks older.

Well, that depends on user’s behavior. If you dress up well, behave well, and talk articulately, peci can even enhance your charisma. Looks presidential, maybe :)

Anyway, peci is also known as songkok (in Malay cultural-based ethnics in Malay peninsula, Sumatra, and coastal Borneo) and kopiah or kopeah (in Java and Madura Island). While the name "peci" itself was probably derived from the Dutch "petje" that means "small hat". Some say, it's derived from the Turkish "fez".

However, peci has become identity of Indonesians. The world has recognized it. Some story icons like Unyil or Kabayan (the smart, funny figure in Sundanese folk) wears peci all the time, not only for praying.

You know, in daily life, some people wear peci only when they pray. For muslims, peci is like a veil for man. He cannot do any bad things while wearing peci. Because it's a part of their religious identity. For the same reason, the accusseds in the court used to wear peci to give the innocent look. Oh là là, this is where peci is misused.

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