Headgear

Headgear

The qalansuwa is a black hood that covers the head and neck's back of a Coptic monk or nun in Egypt. It is associated with a monastic professional of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is officially called a koulla (Coptic; but the word itself is wide-spread in the Middle East), but by the end of the twentieth century it was commonly referred to as a qalansuwa (Arabic).

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses a piece of net (45 x 35 cm) that has been embroidered in preparation of being used as the crown section of a lace cap (hul). The embroidered net lace decoration consists of 41 rosettes. It dates to the nineteenth century. Such decoration is typical for the traditional lace caps worn by women in West-Friesland, in the north of the province of Noord-Holland, in The Netherlands.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA) houses an unassembled coif that dates to the late sixteenth century. It is made from a length of linen that has been embroidered with silk and gilt thread. In order to assemble the coif it would have been folded in half vertically, and then stitched around the edges, but leaving the front edges unstitched (open). The coif would have been secured with a drawstring along the bottom edge.

An eighteenth century coif made of yellow silk and decorated with floral patterns is housed in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. The coif was made in The Netherlands, sometime around 1750-1775. It measures 20 x 20 cm. The decoration is carried out in embroidery with multi-coloured silk and silver thread. The coif is lined with linen.

Illustrated is an example of an Indian turban band, now housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The band was made in either Faizabad or Lucknow (India) during the second half of the eighteenth century. The band is 64.5 x 10.5 cm in size (including the fringe). It is made of velvet on a canvas base. It is decorated with floss silk embroidery, silver and silver gilt wire and spangles.

There were various forms of informal indoor caps for men, which were popular among wealthier, urban groups from the early seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries in Europe and elsewhere. The main forms were the large nightcaps, the undress caps and the smoking caps. Examples of all three forms were often embroidered.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses an intricately embroidered linen coif from Britain, made in the early seventeenth century. It measures 22.9 x 43.2 cm, and the embroidery is worked in silk and silver-gilt thread, together with spangles.

The so-called undress cap was an informal indoor cap for men, which was popular among wealthier, urban groups from the late seventeenth and through the eighteenth century. These caps were usually dome-shaped with a loosely fitting and decoratively shaped brim. The caps were particularly worn by men in informal circumstances to replace the more formal wigs that men used to wear.

A hat with upturned rim, acquired in Tibet in 1905, worn by a layman and dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is housed in the British Museum, London. The crown is made of overlapping blue and black silk, with polychrome floral silk embroidery.

In medieval Europe, a special type of helmet was made from plates of iron sewn between layers of linen. In the British Museum, London, there is an example of such a helmet (acc. no. 1871,1208.1). The helmet is 21.5 cm high.

A mitre (Greek: μίτρα, 'headband' or 'turban') is a Christian liturgical vestment, generally triangular in shape, which may take different specific forms. Mitres have long been worn by Christian bishops and abbots in many Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Since the medieval period, mitres have often been made from decorative woven and/or embroidered material. 

The Textile Research Centre (TRC), Leiden, houses a man's cap from Oman. locally called a kumma. The headgear was purchased in Oman in 1996. The cap is made of factory woven material and is decorated with hand embroidered eyelets. Such caps were traditionally made by a girl for her fiancé/husband.

The Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin houses a quilted cap from Afghanistan, which was collected by Oskar von Niedermayer (1885-1948) when he was sent to Afghanistan by the German government to set up the Afghans against the British in India, during the First World War (1914-1918). The mission failed, and the German mission was forced to leave the country.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a special fireman's hood (haori) from Japan. It dates to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. It is made of a quilted material decorated in the sashiko style. The thick cloth would be drenched with water before the fireman would try to extinguish the fire. The hood measures 31.5 x 42.5 cm.

The Silver Jubilee Cope and Mitre is a set of an embroidered and appliquéd cope and mitre made to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of England (r: 1952-) in 1977. They were designed by British embroiderer Beryl Dean and made by needlework students of the Stanhope Institute, London.

In the nineteenth century, a form of man’s indoor cap, called a smoking cap, became very popular among urban groups in Europe and elsewhere. This type of cap was particularly popular from the late 1840's until the 1880's.

The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Munich, Germany; acc. no. T 17) houses a mitre (17.3 cm high) from England, which dates to about AD 1200. It bears representations of the Stoning of St. Stephen (reverse) and of the Murder of Thomas Becket (obverse). It is made of white silk, probably from the Middle East or Byzantium.

A turban band was a highly decorative cloth and/or metal band that went around a Mughal-period turban in India. It was designed to embellish the turban rather than having a purely practical function. Such a band was often worn with other items of jewellery, such as a feathered aigrette and/or a turban brooch.

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