Published on 27 Feb 2013
Haja Mohideen was twelve years old when he first learned to make a 'Songkok'. He has been making them now for 42 years. He learned the skill from his father who has been working at the same premises for 40 years (1933-1973).
Mr. Haja Mohideen's shop is located at the corner of a mosque on King Street, Georgetown Penang. This shop was the first and last of such shops selling hand-made songkok and managed to draw regular clients from all over Malaysia.
The shop was actually built before independence in 1957 with a limited working space measuring 6 feet by 12 feet, Haja Mohidin still manages to house all his tools and machines although it does get a little hot. The shop, set in an alcove next to the Nagore shrine, is especially meaningful to Haja Mohidin as it is his father's trading legacy.
Haja Mohideen specializes in making the songkok, which is the most commonly worn headgear. Malaysian songkok usually sport a plain black or blue velvet finish. Gold and Silver trimmings are reserved for royalty.
Haja Mohideen draws about 20 orders a day and can complete a Songkok within an hour.
Many uniformed organizations like the police, the army and the cadets have been known to place bulk orders in colours of brown, purple and green. Haja's design is adapted from Acheh probably to cater for the large Acehnese settlers & Haj pilgrims in Penang at the time.