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Traditional Headgears From Different Part of the World

Small ceremonial hat at the Royal Museum for Central Africa

Small ceremonial hat at the Royal Museum for Central Africa

Why do we need Headgear?

Headgear is a covering device for the head and we all have worn it during our lifetime, either regularly or occasionally. There may be different reasons for wearing a headgear but protection from heat, cold, rain and dust are very common. Still others use headgear for decoration or as a fashion wear. Keeping hair tidy or contained may be another motive for a few. For some there may be social convention or an exhibition of modesty. Wearing of headgear may also be necessitated by religious or organisational obligations, for example, military obligations.

Some headgears are historical and many communities maintain the traditions by wearing them on special occasions. There is a large variety of caps, hats, bonnets and other headgear in different shapes.

This Hub endeavours to showcase a few of the traditional and legendary headgears.

Scotsman Bagpiper with a traditional headgear and costume

Feathered Bonnets

Feathered bonnets as headgears have been used by the Native Americans. These have also been used by the Scottish Highland infantry. After World War I these are primarily used by the Pipers and Drummers.

Number One uniform of Scottish Pipers arouses interest in anybody who happens to see the full costume as also the musical ability of these Pipers. Traditionally, there is a feather bonnet which is quite helpul in making every member of the team look taller. Now-a-days even imitation ostrich feathers are used after dying them black. The cultural traditions of Scotland are still maintained by the performance of these Pipers.

See the costume and the Headgear of 1st Battalion Scots Guards

Creek Feather Bonnet

The Gilcrease Museum of the Americas located at Tulsa in Oklahoma exhibits a wide variety of Art work of the American West. The above work is a creek feather bonnet. These bonnets were born by Plains Indian men during war though later used on ceremonial occasions. Earned through achievements in the battle, these bonnets were of spiritual significance as well.

Native American feathers decorated bonnet

Westphalian State Museum of Natural History at Munster in Western Germany exhibits the native American feather Headdress worn by Indian tribes in the Great Plains region like Sioux. These are mostly decorated with ermine skins and have colourful beads.

Other Bonnets

Showcased at Royal Museum for Central Africa is an example of headgear which is braided using palm tree/fibres from leaves. These are decorated with shells and can only be born by a Chief.

Headgears also depict a person's place in society in some cultures. Members of a special society called Bwami in Africa wear circular woven headgear made up of fibers from leaves/palm tree and these are worn at all times. This headgear is also showcased at Royal Museum for Central Africa.

Straw Hats - Conical

Hat is another traditional and popular headgear. A hat has a crown which covers the top of the head and a peak to protect eyes from sun. There are different sizes and the material used also varies from place to place. Hats are worn for ceremonies and religious purposes also.

Straw hats shown in the picture are from Japan with Zenko-Ji inscribed on it.

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Panama Hat

This traditional hat is a brimmed straw hat made from palm-like plant called Toquilla palm. Originated in Ecuador in the seventeenth century this hat is known as Panama Hat. The popularity of the art involved in making this Hat has placed it in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Child's Hat

Early 20th century Child's hat from China. It is made up of silk, cotton, satin weave, embroidery and is exhibited at Honolulu Museum of Art.

Hats from Spain

Montehermoso in Spain is famous for its costumes. Locally called Gorra, the straw hats there are very colourful. These are highly decorated with ribbons, buttons, mirrors and straw braids. It is interesting to note that normally unmarried women wear the ones which are having puffs of multi-colours as also a mirror fixed in the front as shown in the right side of the picture. The one on the left is normally worn by the married women.


Caps are another traditional headgear which are mostly soft without brim but some have a peak. These are normally used to protect eyes from the sunlight. There are wide varieties of caps specially for the women.

The lady on the right is wearing Avba which is a traditional festive cover of Gorenjske in Slovenia

Golden Cap

The Golden cap is a very well decorated cap symbolizes Russian autocracy. 14th century skullcap is also called Monomakh's cap and it is full of emerald, ruby and pearls.

Drenthe Costume

Dutch women's costumes. Drent cap of cotton or lace has silver or gold casques which make the headgear quite elegant.

Swedish Crown

Crowns are worn by Monarches and all those artifacts like swords, rings and other items including crowns are passed on to the next sovereigns. Symbolising right to rule, crowns are worn on coronation or on special occasions.

Two more crowns are shown here. Each one is unique in size, shape and the metal or diamonds or other costly items used to decorate these crowns.

Pahlavi Crown

The Pahlavi Shahanshahs of Iran wear this crown at the time of coronation. First used in 1926, gold, silver and red velvet have been used in the frame of this Crown. In addition, diamonds, natural white pearls and emaralds have also been fixed in this Crown. It was last used in coronation of Mohammad Reza Shah in 1967.

The Iron Crown of the Lombards

Ceated in the early Middle Ages, a narrow iron band with a circlet of gold fitted around it is known as an Iron Crown of Lombardy. Placed in the Cathederal of Monza in the outskirts of Milan, this is a crown used for many coronations including 34 for Holy Roman Emperors during the 9th to 17th century and even for Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805.

Your opinion about Headgear

In Conclusion

It is difficult to showcase all Headgears. Some traditional headgears are still worn in different parts of the world. There may be others which were used in the past but are only of historical significance today. With the change of style, shape and material used many people wore some headgear even if it is for a fashion purpose.


Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on April 22, 2013:

Vellur, thanks for visiting. I am glad you liked headgears.

iguidenetwork, I am glad you liked some of the headgears, specially the Pahlavi Crown. It is nice to see traditional things. Thanks for visiting.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on April 22, 2013:

Interesting work here, my friend. I also enjoyed looking at hats and headgears with different sizes, shapes, colors and materials. I've seen the Pahlavi Crown in an encyclopedia a long time ago and thought it was really beautiful and it still is magnificent. The headgear decorated with shells is also a favorite here. Voted up and interesting.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 22, 2013:

Enjoyed reading this hub about head gears. Great hub, interesting and informative. Voted up.

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