society and norms – Dress and Appearance: Men's Clothing

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Attire can be deceptive in Afghanistan.  A wealthy landowner will typically be dressed no differently than a farm hand.  Afghans prefer to appear humble and keep their dress low key.

CapsThe conventional male Afghan attire is known as the Perahon Tunban  [per-a-HAN Tun-BAHN].  This consists of a knee length shirt called the Perahon and baggy trousers called  Tunban.  A vest or short coat may be worn as well.  Footwear will vary by locale and can range from sandals to sneakers, boots to dress shoes. Men will often carry a pato [pah-TOO] draped over the shoulder or shoulders. The pato is a shawl-like blanket used for a number of purposes:  as a cover for sleeping, as a prayer rug, or to cover the lap, and more importantly, the feet when seated on the ground.

Flat capKarakul capAfghan men wear caps or turbans.  Caps come in many styles, each with material and decoration making it distinctive between and within the many ethnic groups.  Young boys usually wear caps.  Men may wear caps or turbans.  Turbans are characteristic of the Pashtun, but some Pashtun may wear a flat wool cap (Pakol [PAH-kol]), as well.  Turbans are normally worn by older men.

Merchants, teachers, government officials and other community leaders may wear a cap made of the skin of the karakul [Kar-uh-KUHL] sheep. This type of cap indicates social status. President Karzai is known for wearing a Karakul cap.


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