Mariner's cap

A mariner's cap, variations of which are known as skipper cap, Greek fisherman's cap, fiddler cap or Breton cap, Lenin cap and Mao cap, is a soft, flat-topped cap with a small visor, usually made from black or navy blue wool felt, but also occasionally from corduroy or blue denim. It is distinguished from similar caps, such as the peaked cap and maciejówka, by its soft, unstructured crown. It is often associated with seamanship and maritime settings, especially fishing, yachting and recreational sailing. It has become popular amongst the public in general, rather than staying isolated as an occupational hat. One example of it being put in prominence in popular culture was when it was worn by John Lennon during the British Invasion of the mid-1960s.

A Greek fisherman's cap

Eastern and Central EuropeEdit

Lenin wearing his signature cap, 1920s

Caps of this type were introduced during the first quarter of the 19th century, as cheap and practical workwear for sailors and factory workers in Europe. These were particularly popular in Russia, especially among the urban Jewish community, and later gained the nickname fiddler cap due to their use by Topol[1] as Tevye the Milkman in the film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.[2]

A black version of this cap, with a narrow crown and a band embroidered with foliage, was known as a kasket or Hamburg cap. It was introduced in response to the Tsarist authorities banning more traditional Jewish headwear in 19th-century Russia, and was later commonly seen on Kibbutz farmers in Israel during the 1950s.[3] This hat was worn daily by Hasidic Jewish boys in Britain, Germany, Russia, Poland, and America from the early Victorian era until the mid 20th century, but in the present day it is generally restricted to Shabbat and other formal occasions.[citation needed]

Leading Old Bolsheviks including Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Felix Dzerzhinsky, and Joseph Stalin also favored these caps during the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War.[4] Dark blue and army green variants with a red star badge later became part of the uniform for Great Patriotic War era political commissars along with a black leather reefer jacket. Similar caps were also worn by socialists from other countries, including Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong and, more recently, former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[5][6]

Popularity in Western EuropeEdit

Women's skipper cap, 2018.
Jeremy Corbyn wearing a corduroy fiddler cap.

By the 1880s, caps of this type were widespread in Greece, and featured a decorative cord chinstrap, and a distinctive black embroidered ribbon on the peak.[7] The traditional costume for many Greek coastal villagers, comprising the cap, roll neck sweater, loose trousers, and tall boots featured in the film adaptation of The Guns of Navarone, as the disguise for the British agents.[8] Black or navy blue variants with a white crown known as Tellermutzen were also commonly worn by university students in Germany, Denmark, and Sweden from the turn of the century until the present day.

As workwearEdit

Black or navy blue caps of this type served as workwear for merchant navy sailors throughout the 20th century. Caps with decorative gold braid, either in the standard navy blue or with a white top, were favored by the skippers of sailing yachts, motor boats, and other small pleasure craft.[9][10] From the 1930s until the 1970s a waterproof version, known as a mechanic's cap, was worn with a blue boiler suit (coveralls) as part of the uniform for truckers, gas station employees and breakdown men.[11] In the 1950 edition of Tintin and the Land of Black Gold, Thomson and Thompson wear these caps when they go undercover as Autocart mechanics.[12]

Modern useEdit

Rastafarian's hat, combining the peak and hatband of the Greek fisherman cap with the knitted wool body of the traditional Jamaican tam

During the 1950s, black leather variants of the Greek Fisherman's cap were popular among the Ton-up boy and Greaser subculture, due to their use by Marlon Brando in The Wild One.[13] These appear in The Warriors as part of the uniform of the Rogues gang. Similar caps embellished with chains and metal studs were worn by many members of the 1970s black power movement as an alternative to the beret.[14] At the same time, a knitted grey or black version, resembling a wool Rasta hat with a leather peak, gained popularity among some expatriate Jamaican Rastafarians in Britain and the US to accommodate their dreadlocks.[15][16]

From the mid to late 1960s, the Greek Fisherman's cap became a desirable counterculture accessory for both sexes, due to its use by The Beatles during their US tour, and by folk musicians such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Donovan.[failed verification] The cap underwent a revival among young British hipster women during the late 1990s, and again during the 2010s due to a nostalgia for 1970s fashion.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tevye (Character)". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Fiddler on the Roof (1971)". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  3. ^ Alon, Mati (24 June 2017). Holocaust and Redemption. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781412003582. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Footage Farm: Lenin". Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  5. ^ Morrish, Lydia (19 April 2017). "How To Dress Like Jeremy Corbyn". Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  6. ^ Ferrier, Morwenna (14 December 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn's hat – buy of the day". Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via The Guardian.
  7. ^ "What is a greek Fisherman's cap". Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  8. ^ "The Guns of Navarone (1961)". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  9. ^ "MotorBoating". 1 September 1979. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ "Yachting". 1 December 2002. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Meet some of the cool American truck drivers from the 1930s and 1940s ..." 7 August 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  12. ^ Land of Black Gold, page 1 and pages 5-6
  13. ^ "The Long Road Forward - The Satyrs Motorcycle Club and our Leather Community". The Long Road Forward - The Satyrs Motorcycle Club and our Leather Community. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  14. ^ Levy, Peter B. (24 June 1998). The Civil Rights Movement. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 30. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Internet Archive. black power leather cap.
  15. ^ Lynch, Annette; Strauss, Mitchell D. (30 October 2014). Ethnic Dress in the United States: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780759121508. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Allsopp, Richard; Allsopp, Jeannette (24 June 2017). Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. University of the West Indies Press. ISBN 9789766401450. Retrieved 24 June 2017 – via Google Books.

External linksEdit