The first hats were created with the aim to increase the height of the wearer and highlight their social rank. The role of the hat in this respect was identical to the crowns made of precious metals as well as the crowns made of leaves or flowers, which were owned by the rulers or heroes.
Of all the wide range of headgear that mankind has created since ancient times, only one type of hat was considered to be a particularly glorious headgear. The hat also has its own visual differences that prevent it from being confused with a veil, scarf or hood. The hat usually consists of two main parts - the crown and the brim, but often also other complementary parts - the visor and the décor or insignia (ribbon, plum, cockade, etc.)
At certain stages of the emergence of historical fashion styles also appeared brimless hats (pileus /dome or mushroom cap) and crown-less hats (Venetian solana that was used during hair dyeing process because of its very wide brims). Over the ages, hats have become more diverse and their decorativeness has been used both in the context of the fashion trends of the era and when it was needed to express various symbolic meanings. Experiments with hat shapes, materials and decor have always been subordinate to the fashion trends of the era. In these experiments were involved the most daring idea generators, the most creative milliners, who subjected hats to freakish imaginative games. This is the story of the most fashionable hats of all ages and their most famous creators.
Creativity Of The Early Milliners
Ancient Egyptians created the so called skull cap that was widespread among the common people. Those, whose social status denied the use of gorgeous and voluminous wigs, wore tight-fitting egg-shaped caps made of leather or cloth, but sometimes woven from palm leaves or plant stems. These simple caps were made as a protection from the sun and extreme heat. Meanwhile, the varied crowns of Ancient Egyptian rulers were usually part of a voluminous king's headpiece.
Other ancient civilizations also created prototypes of the most famous modern hats. Hittites invented a pom-pom hat, that possibly pointed to a soldier's military rank. The rulers of Babylon, Assyria and Persia used height-increasing felt hats - ancient prototypes of the top hat.
In the ancient Asia Minor, an impressive Phrygian cap was created. Interestingly that its shape resembled a dwarf's hat. That cap was complemented by covering lappets for ears and a nape windshield. The Phrygian cap's shape was used more than once in later periods - during the times of Byzantine Empire and the early Middle Ages in Western Europe, as well as during the French Revolution, when it became an important part of the Jacobin's costume.It was not for nothing that it was considered a "Freedom Hat" because the cap that was once created by the Phrygians was also widely used in Ancient Greece and Rome, where it was given to slaves who had regained their freedom.
Ancient Greek petasus became the first wide-brimmed hat in human history. In Ancient Greece, caps and hats were only as a protection against rain or sun. Then a felt, straw or leather hat with a low crown and wide brims was very useful. Petasus was commonly used by travelers and theater visitors in cases when the show was long or lasted throughout the day. From the Greeks, these hats were inherited by the Romans and were worn when the person wanted to remain unknown.
During the prosperous times of ancient civilizations, not only functional or high-status hats were created. There was no shortage of extravaganza, which was an indication of anonymous milliners's imagination. Variants of these hats have been repeatedly re-introduced in the coming ages and offered to the most active fashion followers. The hats mentioned above were mostly used by males and females, but the first extravagant examples of women's hats could be found in Ancient Crete. The first berets also appeared here, which were supplemented with a vertical decoration, a representation of a totemic animal, during religious cult ceremonies.
To Be Continued...
The essay was based on material from a previously published article by its author:
Parute E. Trako cepurnieku izdomas spēles./Māksla Plus #4/2010
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.
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