Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Woman's hat with a wide circular brim and tall pointed top made from plaited strips of date palm leaf.

  • Date

    • 1890s
  • Production place

    • Made in: Hadramawt
    • (Asia,Arabia,Yemen,Aden Protectorate,Eastern Aden Protectorate,Hadramawt)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 31 centimetres
    • Diameter: 46 centimetres
    • Weight: 360 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    This type of hat is from the Hadhramawt judging by a description of similar examples seen there by the Dutch traveller Col. D. van der Meulen. In his description of his journey through the Wadi Bin ‘Ali, south of Shibam, in the Hadhramaut in May 1939, he writes: “The women here went completely veiled with only a slit in front for the eyes. Gown and veil were dark-blue, nearly black. In Shibam and Saiwun a very wide sky-blue gown was worn while in Tarim gowns of brown and red prevailed. Under these mantle-like garments women and girls wore dresses of blue and sometimes of deep-red, profusely adorned with many-coloured embroidery and shining little spangles. Intricate patterns in red, green and yellow were applied to gowns that hung loosely round the body and were held in the middle by a girdle of braided silver-wire. We never could admire them closely or for long. That would have been ill-mannered and the women would have become very alarmed if we strangers had showed special interest in them. Some of the shepherdesses of this region wore large straw hats similar to those of the women in the Wadi Hadhramaut but with a less pointed crown. To buy such a hat proved to be quite impossible. Every woman wove one for herself and it was scandalous to sell a part of one’s clothing”.
    Source: D. van der Meulen: 'Aden to the Hadhramaut. A Journey in South Arabia', London: John Murray, 1947, pp. 224-225.Kew Gardens label attached to the hat reads:

    'HAT made of the LEAVES of the "DATE PALM," Phoenix dactylifera L.
    Worn by Bedouin women in the Hadramut.
    J. T. Bent, Esq.'

    For a similar hat being worn in the Hadramawt in recent times, see


  • Location

    Not on display

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Collected by Theodore and Mabel Bent during their expedition to Dhofar and sent by them to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1895, whence it was transferred to the British Museum in 1960.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


Woman's hat made of leaves (palm).

Woman's hat made of leaves (palm).

Image description



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Object reference number: RRM189556

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