KUCHING: The songkok (black cap worn by Muslim males) is often in high demand, not just during Aidilfitri but also special occasions such as weddings, legislative assemblies, coronations and prayers.
India Street has long been recognised by Kuching residents as a hub for textiles and jewellery, as well as the songkok, which is sold in a variety of styles and patterns.
The songkok sold here is available in a range of materials, sizes and colours, and most importantly, fits the customer’s head perfectly.
Mohammed (one name given), 34, a sales promoter at Naazimudin Company, said one of the most popular songkok would be the Sheik Premium Songkok, made by the owner himself.
It is made from high-quality velvet and available at an affordable price of RM40.
“Although we sell at a low price, ranging from as low as RM25 for children and RM40 for adults, the quality is still high.
“We have a lot of songkok variations, but the most expensive and luxurious one costs RM108, which is handmade using velvet and fabric imported from Syria, providing optimum comfort.”
Then there is the King Songkok, standing about 13 inches in height and about the size of a baby elephant’s head, but it is for display only.
Another style, Songkok Lipat, looks similar to a regular black songkok but is foldable and costs between RM18 and RM28.
Anothe sales promoter, Mariam (one name given), 23, explained that the foldable songkok was popular among children because it was easier to store in their school bags.
However, adults preferred the normal songkok since it would not easily be crumpled and would sit perfectly on the head since it was way heavier than the foldable songkok, she said.
“The reason why the foldable songkok is much cheaper is because it is made from a lighter but dense velvet, which will not feel hot on the head and is also easy to wash or clean.
“The prices for the foldable songkok are as low as from RM18 to RM25, which is considered cheap, and one of the reasons why parents prefer it for their children is that if it is spoilt, it doesn’t cost a lot to buy a new one.”
There are also decorative pins that can be used to enhance the songkok, making it more luxurious, costing RM18, often coming in two variations — blue and black.
Quraisa Banu, 48, owner of Quraisa Banu Store, said most of her customers preferred the imported songkok from Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei because the materials were more comfortable but at the same time, priced affordably for as low as RM40.
“Although some of the songkok are not locally made, some of my customers do not really care as long as it is comfortable and the material used is not hot.
“Songkok also comes in different height, but customers prefer the standard height, which is four-and-a-half inches, and the tallest one we have is five to six inches, while most buyers are from the older generation.”
Songkok sales are typically strong in the run-up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the festival to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.