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John Michael Wright, Mrs Salesbury with her Grandchildren Edward and Elizabeth Bagot, c. 1676, Tate Britain.

Pointed hats have been a distinctive item of headgear of a wide range of cultures throughout history. Though often suggesting an ancient Indo-European tradition, they were also traditionally worn by women of Lapland, the Japanese, the Mi'kmaq people of Atlantic Canada, and the Huastecs of Veracruz and Aztec (illustrated e.g. in Codex Mendoza). The Kabiri of New Guinea have the diba, a pointed hat glued together.[1]



Existence of the conical hat is known as early as the Bronze Age in Middle East and Central Europe. One example is the golden hat worn by members of the priesthood[which?], likely as a ceremonial accessory. In Ancient Greece, the pilos was a common conical traveling hat. Popular among Burgundian noblewomen in the 15th century was a type of conical headgear now called a hennin.[2] Conical hats were also popular in late medieval Vijayanagar, India.

Bronze AgeEdit

The conical golden hats of Bronze Age Central Europe were probably a ceremonial accessory worn by the priesthood. See also horned helmet.

Iron AgeEdit

Textile analysis of the Tarim Mummies has shown some similarities to the Iron Age civilizations of Europe dating from 800 BC, including woven twill and tartan patterns strikingly similar to tartans from Northern Europe. One unusual find was a distinctively pointed hat:

Yet another female – her skeleton found beside the remains of a man – still wore a terrifically tall, conical hat just like those we depict on witches riding broomsticks at Halloween or on medieval wizards intent at their magical spells.[3]:200

Pointed hats were also worn in ancient times by Saka (Scythians), and are shown on Hindu temples (as helmets and metal crowns) and in Hittite reliefs. As described by Herodotus, the name of the Scythian tribe of the tigrakhauda (Orthocorybantians) is a bahuvrihi compound literally translating to "people with pointed hats".[4][5]

Besides the Scythians, the Cabeiri as well as Odysseus are traditionally pictured wearing a Pilos, or woolen conical hat.[6]

Middle AgesEdit

The 13th-century Cumans commonly wore scythian style pointed hats,[7] and are reported to have fought wearing them.[8]

Originating from the Japanese Heian period, the kazaori eboshi (風折烏帽子) was worn by aristocrats to indicate rank. Still worn today for ceremonial purposes, this black[9] linen hat was used during a samurai's ceremony in attaining manhood.[10]

The Jewish poet Süßkind von Trimberg wearing a Jewish hat (Codex Manesse, 14th century)

The Papal tiara in the Middle Ages is sometimes shown as more pointed than in more recent centuries, though also shown with no point. Mitra papalis is a type of conch named after the papal mitre for its form.

Medieval Jewish men wore distinctive headgear as required by European Christian authorities. This included the pointed Jewish hat (or "Judenhut") already worn by Jews, a piece of clothing probably imported from the Islamic world and perhaps before that from Persia.[11]

Popular among Burgundian noblewomen in the 15th century was a type of conical headgear now called a hennin.[2]

Modern timesEdit

Pointed hats at 2017 Courir de Mardi Gras in rural Louisiana

The Spitzhut is a traditional kind of headgear in Bavaria.

Pointed hoods were used by various orders and Catholic lay confraternities for processions, e.g. the Semana Santa of Sevilla who wore the Capirote.

Pointed hats are still worn in the rural Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations by the Cajuns, the Courir de Mardi Gras, where they are known as capuchons.[12]

The Ku Klux Klan has worn this headgear since its first era.[13]

Tall conical hats are common to traditional folk ceremonies in many parts of Europe, particularly at Carnival time. Examples can still be seen in Italy, Spain and Bulgaria.[14]

The May Day hobby horses of Padstow and Minehead in southwest England have pointed hats with masks attached.[15][16][17]

Folklore and fictionEdit

Classical pointed hats are worn by the dwarfs, witches and wizards of European Folklore.[citation needed]


Type Image Notes
Bashlyk This traditional Turkic and Cossack cone-shaped headdress hood is usually made of leather, felt or wool. It is an ancient round topped felt bonnet with lappets for wrapping around the neck.
Capirote   Historically, the capirote was a cardboard cone worn in Spain.
Capuchon   A capuchon is a ceremonial hat worn during the Mardi Gras celebration in the Cajun areas of southwestern Louisiana, known as the Courir de Mardi Gras.
Asian conical hat   Known as a sedge hat, rice hat, paddy hat or coolie hat, this simple style of hat is often made of straw. It originated in East, South and Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Dunce cap   In popular culture, the dunce cap is typically made of paper and often marked with a D or the word "dunce", and given to schoolchildren to wear as punishment by public humiliation for misbehaviour and, as the name implies, stupidity.
Fulani hat   A conical plant fiber hat covered in leather both at the brim and top, worn by men of the Fulani people in West Africa.
Golden hat   This type of hat is a very specific and rare type of archaeological artifact from Bronze Age Europe.
Hennin   Most commonly worn in Burgundy and France by women of the nobility, the hennin appears from about 1430 onwards. Later, though, this hat spread more widely, especially in the truncated form. Typically, the hennin was 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) high, generally accompanied by a veil that usually emerged from the top of the cone and was allowed to fall onto the woman's shoulders.
Hogeon   This Korean traditional headgear for young boys aged one year to five years has flaps, and is a type of gwanmo (관모),.
Jewish hat   The Jewish hat was often white or yellow, worn by Jews in Medieval Europe and some of the Islamic world.
Kalpak   This high-crowned cap is usually made of felt or sheepskin. It is worn by men from southeastern Europe, Iran, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Kasa   A Kasa is any of several kinds of traditional hats of Japan.
Madhalla   Traditional straw hat from Yemen.
Mokorotlo   A straw hat used traditionally by the Sotho people. It serves as the national symbol of Lesotho.
Nightcap   This garment is worn while sleeping, often with a nightgown, for warmth.
Party hat   A party hat is generally a playful conical hat made with a rolled up piece of thin cardboard, usually with designs printed on the outside and a long string of elastic going from one side of the cone's bottom to another to secure the cone to one's head.
Phrygian cap   The Phrygian cap is a soft cap with the top pulled forward. Associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Phrygia, a region of central Anatolia; from the French Revolution a symbol of revolution, liberty and republicanism – and in modern times with Smurfs.
Pileus   The pileus was, in Ancient Greece and Rome, a brimless, felt cap, somewhat similar to a fez.
Salakot   Usually made from rattan or reeds, this is a traditional hat from the Philippines.
Sugar loaf   This very tall, tapering hat was first worn in medieval times. Its name comes from the loaves into which sugar was formed at that time.[18] The sugar loaf hat is a kind of early top hat ending in a slightly rounded conical top.[19]
Tantour   Similar to the hennin, this woman's headdress was popular in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 19th century.[20][21] The most ornate tantours were made of gold and reached as high as 30 inches. Some were encrusted with gems and pearls. The tantour was held in by a ribbons tied around the head. A silk scarf was wound around the base with a white veil attached to the peak.[22]
Topor   A topor is worn during Bengali Hindu wedding ceremonies. It is usually white, fragile, and made of sholapith.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Angeleimter Spitzhut oder "diba" Kabiri (Neuguinea)". (in German). Archived from the original on 2004-10-31. Retrieved 2005-08-09.
  2. ^ a b "hat – FactMonster".
  3. ^ Elizabeth Wayland Barber (2000). The Mummies of Ürümchi. W. W. Norton, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-393-32019-0.
  4. ^ Lendering, Jona (2013). "History of Iran: Scythians / Sacae". Iran Chamber Society. Retrieved 12 December 2013. The Sakâ tigrakhaudâ ('Sacae with pointed hats') were defeated in 520/519 BCE by the Persian king Darius I, who gave this tribe a new leader. One of the earlier leaders was killed, the other, named Skunkha, was taken captive and is visible on the relief at Behistun. (It is possible that Darius created a new tribe from several earlier tribes.) Herodotus calls the Sakâ tigrakhaudâ the Orthocorybantians ('pointed hat men'), and informs us that they lived in the same tax district as the Medes. This suggests that the Sakâ tigrakhaudâ lived on the banks of the ancient lower reaches of the Amudar'ya, which used to have a mouth in the Caspian Sea south of Krasnovodsk. The pointed hat is a kind of turban.
  5. ^ Askolʹd Igorevich Ivanchik; Vaxtang Ličʻeli (2007). Achaemenid Culture and Local Traditions in Anatolia, Southern Caucasus and Iran: New Discoveries. BRILL. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-90-04-16328-7.
  6. ^ Walter Burkert (1 January 1983). Burkert. University of California Press. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-0-520-03650-5.
  7. ^ Linehan, Peter; Nelson, Janet Laughland, eds. (2003). The medieval world. Routledge Worlds Series. 10. Routledge. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-415-30234-0.
  8. ^ Karasulas, Antoly (2004). Mounted archers of the Steppe 600 BC-AD 1300. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Osprey Publishing. p. 63. [The warrior's] conical fur-edged felt hat is a typical item of Cuman clothing
  9. ^ "Japan Regional Information". Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  10. ^ "冠と烏帽子". Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  11. ^ "Jewish hat article". Archived from the original on 2008-02-25.
  12. ^ "Mardi Gras in Rural Acadiana". Archived from the original on 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
  13. ^ Kinney, Alison (January 8, 2016). "How the Klan Got Its Hood". The New Republic.
  14. ^ Carnival King of Europe: High Conical Hats
  15. ^ Archived 2007-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Cawte, E. C. (1978). Ritual Animal Disguise: A Historical and Geographical Study of Animal Disguise in the British Isles. Cambridge and Totowa: D.S. Brewer Ltd. and Rowman and Littlefield for the Folklore Society. ISBN 978-0-85991-028-6.
  17. ^ Hole, Christina (1995) [1976]. A Dictionary of British Folk Customs. Oxford: Helicon. ISBN 978-1859861295.
  18. ^ "Types of hats Alphabetic List N – Z". Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  19. ^ Sewell, Charlotte (1983). Clothes in History. Wayland Ltd. Pp. 20, 21
  20. ^ "19th Century Lebanese Princess".
  21. ^ "The Tantour or Shihabbiyeen". Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  22. ^ "Origin of Levantine Costumes". Retrieved 2010-08-16.

Further readingEdit

  • Barber, A.W. (1999). The Mummies of Ürümchi. Macmillan, London.

External linksEdit