J: Things People Put On Their Head

Headgear like hats and helmets sometimes indicates a specific profession, military rank, or other position of authority, even though the relation between hats and specific social strata has largely disappeared in many Western societies. For instance, the Maltese għonnella, a hooded cloak worn by wealthy women until the middle of the twentieth century, is now essentially an extinct form of clothing, relegated to collections and specialized publications (see chapter 5). Yet cultural connotations associated with headgear survive today in different forms, from the hunter’s camouflage hat to the Carnival headdress and the Islamic veil. Last but not least, hats still protect us from the sky falling on our heads.

Airmalta hostess’s hat, hunter’s hat, and hard hat.
Photo: Alexandra Pace

Close Helmet. Steel. Late sixteenth century. North Italian manufacture. Palace Armoury, Valletta. Courtesy Heritage Malta.
Photo: Alexandra Pace.

Magical hat with spell in Arab script used by Didacus Mifsud as remedy against heavy headaches, confiscated by Inquisitor Fabrizio Verallo, ca. 1600–1605. Paper, early seventeenth century. AIM Proc Vol. 109B, Item 351, ff. 463–4, Cathedral Archives, Mdina, Malta. Courtesy Heritage Malta.
Photo: Alexandra Pace.