Mamluk Caps

14th century Quilted Silk Cap

quilted indigo and white cloth 'pillbox' hat

This 14th century cap is composed of a long rectangle sewn into a short tubular brim, with six triangles forming the somewhat peaked crown, surmounted by a small ball bound with red thread.

The outer layer is pattern-woven (possibly lampas weave) silk fabric striped in dark indigo, medium indigo-teal, light indigo-teal, and beige-yellow. The patterns are woven in, featuring bands with Arabic inscriptions and bands with animals. The lining is woven of a bast-like fiber.

The pieces appear to have been quilted before they were sewn together. The quilt pattern of lozenges, stitched in red thread, can be viewed as overlapping six-pointed stars.

These caps were worn by men, women, and children in Mamluk Egypt. There are caps like this in a number of museums, including the Cairo Museum in Egypt (where this cap is), the Victoria & Albert Museum in London UK, and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City.

Undated Pieced, Appliquéed Quilted, and Embroidered Silk Cap

red and black embroidered hat with long tassel

This cap, very different from the one above, is of silk sewn over a linen lining. The surface is composed of many small pieces of fabric pieced and appliqued. The main body is red, with attached triangles of black, red, yellow, and green silk. The whole is quilted to its lining with running stitches of red silk thread. A long luxurious tassel of red and yellow silk flows from the top center.

The pieces are enhanced with embroidery. Small circles of buttonhole stitch are arranged in various groupings around the hat, in red, yellow, green, both medium and light blue, black, and white silk. Uncounted long-armed cross stitches of alternating black and white or red and white line the edges of some triangular pieces and encircle arrangements of buttonhole eyelets. Many of the pieces are outlined with white back stitch.

It appears that the main body of the cap was cut as a rectangle and gathered somewhat at the upper edge to match the circle of triangles that forms the peak. This cap is one of six in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford UK.

Embroidery and Appliquª Details of This Cap. These details are very large: 417 K and 307 K. They will take a long time to load unless you're on a very fast connection.

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