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Information » What's On Hadji's Head?


Thanks to Amanda for this article!

So everyone knows that our beloved Hadji Singh is rarely seen without his turban; however, few people are aware that a turban holds more significance than being a fashion statement or head protection.  A turban can say a lot about you.  The information and images (other than the ones of Hadji) are directly taken from an article at The Seattle Times and then applied to Hadji by me.  The images were drawn by Paul Schmid.

Sikh men commonly wear a peaked turban that serves partly to cover their long hair, which is never cut out of respect for God's creation. Devout Sikhs also do not cut their beards, so many Sikh men comb out their facial hair and then twist and tuck it up into their turbans along with the hair from their heads. Sikhism originated in northern India and Pakistan in the 15th century and is one of the youngest of the world's monotheistic religions. There are an estimated 18 million Sikhs in the world, with some 2 million spread throughout North America, Western Europe and the former British colonies.

One rare occasions, Hadji is drawn wearing a turban that could almost be considered of this kind (right).  This doesn't happen in any of the shows or comics, but occasionally an artist will draw him with his turban wrapped in such a way, and Hadji is known to keep his hair long.  He is, however, Hindu, not Sikh.


Muslim religious elders, like this man from Yemen, often wear a turban wrapped around a cap known in Arabic as a kalansuwa. These caps can be spherical or conical, colorful or solid white, and their styles vary widely from region to region. Likewise, the color of the turban wrapped around the kalansuwa varies. White is thought by some Muslims to be the holiest turban color, based on legends that the prophet Mohammed wore a white turban. Green, held to be the color of paradise, is also favored by some. Not all Muslims wear turbans. In fact, few wear them in the West, and in major cosmopolitan centers around the Muslim world, turbans are seen by some as passé.

Hadji lives in the West, and we know he is also Hindu, not Muslim.  He is never seen in a turban of this kind.
 

Afghan men wear a variety of turbans, and even within the Taliban, the strict Islamic government that controls much of the country, there are differences in the way men cover their heads. This Taliban member, for example, is wearing a very long turban — perhaps two twined together — with one end hanging loose over his shoulder. The Taliban ambassador to Afghanistan, on the other hand, favors a solid black turban tied above his forehead. And some men in Afghanistan do not wear turbans at all, but rather a distinctive Afghan hat.

Though there is variety in turbans in this area, we know that Hadji is from India, and not Afghanistan, and so his particular style of wrapping his turban comes from elsewhere.


Iranian leaders wear black or white turbans wrapped in the flat, circular style shown in this image of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The word turban is thought to have originated among Persians living in the area now known as Iran, who called the headgear a dulband.

Hadji is clearly not an Iranian leader, and has never been seen wearing a turban of this kind.


The kaffiyeh is not technically a turban. It is really a rectangular piece of cloth, folded diagonally and then draped over the head — not wound like a turban. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has made the kaffiyeh famous in recent times. However, the kaffiyeh is not solely Palestinian. Men in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Persian Gulf states wear kaffiyehs in colors and styles that are particular to their region. Jordanians, for example, wear a red and white kaffiyeh, while Palestinians wear a black and white one. And a man from Saudi Arabia would likely drape his kaffiyeh differently than a man from Jordan. The black cord that holds the kaffiyeh on one's head is called an ekal.

                       Hadji is clearly not in the category.


Desert peoples have long used the turban to keep sand out of their faces, as this man from Africa is likely doing. Members of nomadic tribes have also used turbans to disguise themselves. And sometimes, the color of a person's turban can be used to identify his tribal affiliation from a distance across the dunes. This man's turban is a very light blue. In some parts of North Africa, blue is thought to be a good color to wear in the desert because of its association with cool water.

It would be amusing to see Hadji as a desert person, but he clearly is not.


Indian men sometimes wear turbans to signify their class, caste, profession or religious affiliation — and, as this man shows, turbans in India can be very elaborate. However, turbans made out of fancy woven cloths and festooned with jewels are not unique to India. As far away as Turkey, men have used the headgear to demonstrate their wealth and power.

And we know that Hadji is an Indian man (boy, really).  He was found in Calcutta living with Pasha, and, according to The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, was born in Bangalore, where he is really the sultan.  However, even as sultan he wears his plain white turban, adorned only with one jewel, and not some elaborate thing as the man in the picture to the left is wearing.

However--and this is a big "however"--Hindu men are not required or likely to wear a turban.  This is, in Hadji's part of the world, a symbol of a Sikh man. If in India, it being a mostly Hindu country, a man is wearing a turban, its most likely because they are working outside and are using it for protection.  The turban, in this part of the world, has little to no cultural significance, as those who designed Hadji would have you believe.

This is evident when you look at photographs from Bangalore or Calcutta, Hadji's cities of origin (depending on which series you're watching).

  

The image on the left is a screenshot from The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode 29 entitled "Bloodlines."  In this episode Hadji finds his birth mother, and learns that he is the sultan of Bangalore.  At the end of the episode he addresses his people, as seen in the image above.  Notice that everyone is wearing a turban.

The image on the right is a photo of a busy marketplace in the middle of Bangalore.  If you look really closely you can see one guy wearing a beanie, but no turbans.  Not a one.

So why, exactly, is the mystical and magical Hindu Hadji wearing a turban?  Well... because no one bothered to look into things before creating the character, and everyone in America knows that all Indian people wear turbans.  Right?

And so, though we now know more about other cultures, we now also know that darling Hadji's headgear is a sham thanks to ignorance from generations past.  This is not to discredit the fact that Hadji was the first minority character to have a staring role in a television series, and, of course, we all still love him.