Papakha cossack hat from the Caucasus

Commonly known as the Cossack Hat

A Papakha is a wool hat worn by men throughout the Caucasus and also in uniformed regiments in the region and beyond. The word papakha is of Turkic origin. The hat is often associated with Cossacks – a group of ‘free’ people who traditionally lived in semi-military communities along the southern edges of Russia.

There are two different Caucasian papakhas. One, called a papaha, is a high fur hat made of karakul sheep skin. The hat has the general appearance of a cylinder with one open end and is set upon the head in such a way as to have the brim touch the temples. Some have ear flaps which can be folded up when not in use. The other style is called a kubanka, which is similar to the papakha, except shorter and with no ear flaps.

Papaqs are very important to mountainous peoples’ of the Caucasus, where a man’s hat is considered a very important part of his identity. Papakhi are donned by the Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanians, and other Caucasian tribes. Papakhas are also worn in Georgia’s mountainous regions. Papaq is also very common in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

After the campaigns in the Caucasus Mountains, the Papakha was introduced in the Russian army in 1855 as an official part of the Cossack uniform, and later for the rest of the cavalry.

The Papakha excluded from the new Red Army uniform after the Russian Revolution of 1917 due to their association with the old Tsarist regime and that many Cossack regiments of the Tsarist army fought against the Bolsheviks. During the Russian Civil War, many Bolshevik cavalrymen and officers (like Vasily Chapayev) wore papakhas or kubankas because many of them were cossacks and the hat had been part of the cavalryman’s uniform.

The Papakha’s heritage comes from Central Asia and the Caucasus and today is worn across the entire region, including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Dagestan, and Chechnya, as well as Russia and Ukraine.

Other names for the Papakha

  • Papaha
  • Kubanka
  • Papaq
  • Papakhi

Famous wearers of the Papakha

  • Cossacks
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC fighter)
Papakha cossack hat from the Caucasus