What is the Dramatic Order Knights of Omar?
Sometimes, when you go down the fraternal rabbit hole, you eventually come to a group of which there is little information. The Dramatic Order Knights of Omar definitely fits that bill! What we do know is that the organization was modeled on the Dramatic Order of Knights of Khorassan, an appendant body to the Knights of Pythias. The Knights of Omar occupied a similar place in the African American Pythian movement. Much like other fraternal bodies, African Americans created and operated their Knights of Pythias organization, to which the Knights of Omar were added some time in the early 1920’s. The “DOKO”, as its often labeled, does still exist today, but it is very small and concentrated in the American Southeast. Meetings are chaired by the Grand Mogul and a retinue of officers similar to other fellowship based organizations. The ritual of the Order is quite extensive, being divided into three acts, and sending the candidate on a familiar journey to “foreign lands while crossing the hot sands of the desert.”
The fez of a member of the Dramatic Order Knights of Omar is maroon or red in color, with yellow or gold embroidery. It usually depicts the emblem of the order and provides some information on which local group the owner was a member of. As noted on this piece, the original owner hailed from Hymola Temple in Texas. The fez is constructed as usual, with a small black tassel. In looking at the construction techniques, it is believe to date from the 1940’s or 1950’s.
At first glance, you’d probably think this fez come from the Masonic Shriners. The crescent and scimitar in the center of the emblem is certainly very close to their logo. Yet, the rhinestone embroidery around the image tells a different story. This fez comes from Sultan Temple No. 3, of Springfield, Ohio. The fez is black, with a yellow tassel. The rhinestones are well done and stay solidly in place. Because of the extravagance of this fez, it is thought that it might have belonged to someone in a leadership position, but we don’t know that for sure. The piece is relatively new, probably dating from the 1970’s or later.
Of the three DOKO fezzes in the collection, this fez displays the most universal version of the logo – the crescent, scimitar, camel and spears. The design is done in bullion thread, with rhinestone accents, especially on the letters. Lauterer, of Chicago, is the manufacturer of this piece. Based on the label and style of design, it probably dates from the 60’s to the 80’s. The tassel is long and in good condition, retaining its yellow color. Unfortunately, nothing much can be found on Mecca No.1 of Norwalk, CT. It is presumed to be defunct.
We will always snag up a DOKO fez when we see one! This fez is of the more traditional design, being black with a yellow tassel. The design is rendered in bullion and rhinestones. Per the piece, the owner belonged in Oakland, CA to Temple No. 1. However, as you can see, several Temple purport to be No. 1. This demonstrates the small, schismatic nature of the Order, which has be refounded on multiple occasions.