In nineteenth century Central Asia it was said that you could tell a man by his hat. His specific ethnic group, tribe, region, or even the town he came from could be identified from the patterns and style of his hat. Except for caps sewn by nomadic women or mothers for their young children, most skullcaps were made by individual craftswomen and sold in the bazaars. However, during the 1920s and ‘30s, the Soviets began organizing these women into cooperatives (artels). Regional styles, designs, and stitches were retained and new ones added. Three basic shapes prevailed – square, round, and conical.

Women also wore distinctive headwear. For everyday wear, Kyrgyz women wore tall, white, turban-like headdresses; Kazak women, white cowl-like headdresses; and Kungrat women in the southern regions of Uzbekistan an elaborate headdress of multiple scarves wrapped around a soft, rounded cap with a long embroidered plait-cover hanging down the back. Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen women and girls wore embroidered skullcaps in regional styles and patterns.