Found just before the dawn of the Chinese lunar new year (happy year of the dragon!), this hat would have been worn, probably by a young boy (though it fits this adult head perfectly) for special occasions, including New Year's festivals. Though featuring the faces of different animals, these are typically referred to as tiger hats, or hu tou mao, and symbolize protection for children from evil spirits and empowerment for future success. I'm not entirely sure if the face on this one is tiger, dog, or mythical creature, but what a wonderful face it is, composed of felt and silk and what appears to be leather for the eyes and marvelous nose, carefully stitched on and over with thread. The ears are flaps, embroidered and fringed, that can turn up and down, and on the back is a flapping fin or tail of sorts with hanging purple silk ribbons. Silk on the outside of the hat, cotton ikat lining, with cotton laces to tie at the neck. Beautifully constructed and in great shape. C. 1920-40s or so, I believe.
Laid flat: 12 7/8 w x 11 t. One stain to the green silk visible on the back side, I don't think a bit detracting; very good condition.