The Land of the Hat-Wearing Peoples

Back in 2004, my wife and I went to see an exhibit at the V&A on contact between Europe and Asia between 1500 and 1800. It was fascinating in a million ways, as these things usually are. But what I really remember is an Indian map which detailed all the different parts of India and its neighbours, then relegated everywhere else to one big blob (well, not that big) labelled “lands of the hat-wearing peoples”. It’s funny what people decide to make the distinctive features of other cultures. But fair, in this instance. 

Did you know that “solar topee” is a folk etymology? Some pith helmets were made from a plant called the sola, and English people pronounce “sola” and “solar” similarly. 

The Land of the Hat-Wearing Peoples

One thought on “The Land of the Hat-Wearing Peoples

  1. Dear to whom it may concern,

    My name is Kelsey Heck and I am a research assistant for Professor Eric Zuelow at the University of New England. He is currently completing a book about the history of modern tourism that will be published by Palgrave next year and we are tracking down images to illustrate various elements of the text.

    I am writing to enquire about the18th century map of sea monsters attached book image which I located on your website. Do you own the copyright or know who does? Any information will be helpful.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


    Kelsey Heck

    P.S. You can reach me at

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