June 17, 2006


FezHead.jpg In the grand traditon of The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco and Part Seis), as well as The Helmet Project, The King Project, the Hulk Hands Project and the Mullet Project comes a new endeavor: The Fez Project.

We got a bunch of fezzes (fezzi?) in a press kit the other day from the Shriners.

In less than a day, the project amassed a trove of sometimes fascinating, sometimes hilarious, sometimes disturbing images.

When you think about it, a fez is just a sombrero without a the brim. Everyone looks better in sombrero, and, by corrolary, everyone looks better in a fez.

A few bits of fez trivia I was unaware of:

* Fez is the oldest city of Morocco. As with other Moroccan cities it consists of two parts; the Medina and the Ville Nouvelle. This city was founded in the 9th century by the first Muslim dynasty to rule Morocco, the Idrissids. Since then Fez has always played a pivotal role in the history of Morocco, right up to the revolt against the French.

* Most Fassis - the people of Fes - continue to live in in the Medina-city Fes-el-Bali instead of moving to the Ville Nouvelle; the modern urban and more European city.

* During the reign of the Sultan Mahmud Khan II (1808-39), a European code of dress gradually replaced the traditional robes worn by members of the Ottoman court. The change in costume was soon emulated by the public and senior civil servants, followed by the members of the ruling intelligentsia and the emancipated classes throughout the Turkish Empire. While European style coats and trousers were gradually adopted, this change did not extend to headwear. Peaked or broad brimmed headdresses such as the top hat did not meet the Islamic requirement that men should press their heads to the ground when praying. Accordingly the Sultan issued a firman (royal decree) that the checheya headgear in a modified form would become part of the formal attire of the Turkish Empire irrespective of his subjects' religious sects or milets.

* The checheya had many names and shapes. In Istanbul it was called a fez, fezzi, or "phecy" while the modern Egyptian version was called a tarboosh, deriving from the Persian words 'sar' meaning head and 'poosh' meaning cover. It was basically a brimless, cone-shaped, flat-topped hat made of felt. Originating in Fez, Morocco, the earliest variety was in the form of a bonnet with a long turban wound around it which could be white, red or black. When it was adopted in Istanbul the bonnet was modified. At first it was rounded, then, some time later, lengthened and subsequently shortened. At some point the turban was eliminated and the color of the checheya stuck to red. The fez gets it distinctive red hue from a dye collected from the bright red berries of the Turkish kizziljiek (Cornus mas) - a cousin to the common American dogwood (Cornus florida).

* The red fez with blue tassel was the standard headdress of the Turkish Army from the 1840s until the introduction of a khaki service dress and peakless sun helmet in 1910. The only significant exceptions were cavalry and some artillery units who wore a lambskin hat with coloured cloth tops. Albanian levies wore a white version of the fez.

AkbarAndJeff.gif* Western cartoons are known to use the fez as a symbol of relaxation. Characters are shown wearing a fez often while lying in a hammock on vacation or just relaxing after a hard day of work. This curious imagery is apparently a throwback to the late 19th century English practice of men wearing a loose fitting "smoking jacket" and braided fez-like headdress when relaxing informally in the evenings. Punch cartoons of the period frequently portray middle-class male figures dressed in this fashion. More recent examples are seen in the Tom and Jerry (MGM) and The Ren and Stimpy Show all featuring fezzes. Norm the Genie from the Fairly Oddparents wears a fez. The comic strip characters Akbar and Jeff from Life in Hell were known for sporting fezzes.

You can see the entire Fez Project by clicking here.

A few highlights:








Posted by Jeff at June 17, 2006 09:36 AM | TrackBack
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