headdress, head covering or decoration, protective or ceremonial, which has been an important part of costume since ancient times. Its style is governed in general by climate, available materials, religion or superstition, and the dictates of fashion. The most primitive form consisted of varied styles of hairdressing. Protective head coverings include the hat, cap, hood, helmet, wig, and veil. Ceremonial headdress, which is often highly symbolic and steeped in tradition, includes all head coverings and headdressings that indicate rank, profession, or religion, as well as those worn in ritualistic ceremonies, games, and contests. Examples are the feathered war bonnet of the Native American, the peacock feathers of the Manchu, the Eastern turban, the Turkish fez, the cardinal's hat, the nun's coif and veil, the marriage crowns, the judge's wig, the academic cap (mortarboard), and many others.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.