Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Faroe Islands 2018 - Faroese National Costumes III

Technical Details:
Issue Date: 24 September 2018
Values: 18,00 and 20,00 DKK
Stamp Size: 40,0 x 26,5 mm
Artist: Edward Fuglø
Printing Method: Offset
Printer: OeSD, Austria
Postal Use: Small Letters to Europe and Other Countries, 0-50 g

The third and last issue in the series about the Faroese national costume deals with traditional headwear - Bonnet and Hat

About the Motif: Faroese National Costumes III

The Faroese National Costume III – Bonnet and Hat
The third and last issue in the series about the Faroese national costume deals with traditional headwear.

The Female Costume
The traditional women’s headwear was, as in the rest of Europe, the so-called bonnet. The bonnet is a kind of a neck hat that covers the top of the head, the nape and rear part of the temples, down to or over the ears - but not the forehead. The headwear has been known since the Middle Ages, when both women and men could wear bonnets. Medieval knights carried a thick bonnet as a status symbol under the helmet in order to spread the effect of a blow to the head. Not wearing the helmet emphasized their knighthood status.

The practice spread among other men in less fearsome professions, although the bonnet was thinner. For women, the bonnet was seen more as a symbol of modesty and bashfulness. Honest women did not go with their hair exposed, something which still can be observed in conservative Christian groups like the Amish and the Mannonites. In my childhood, female officers in the Army of Salvation also wore small black bonnets as part of the uniform.

The practical purpose of the women's bonnets was preserving the hairdo and protecting the hair from rain, wind and the elements of nature. Since the sun, sometimes absent for lengthy periods of time, did not pose any problem for Faroese women, the otherwise well-known European sunscreen was not widely used. Instead, the two-piece bonnet, as featured on the stamp, was most commonly used. The bonnets were generally dark, albeit in different colors. They were held in place with silk ribbons, red for girls and young women, blue for elderly women. Widows carried dark blue ribbons to mark their sorrow. Sources also mention patterned ribbons, but they have probably not been very common. In recent decades, the bonnet has become fashionable among women wearing the national costume. However, it is still a part of the attire of little girls.

Male Suit
The most prominent part of the male national costume is the characteristic hat. The slanted hat is related to the French Jacobine hat - and must not to be confused with the more distinguished headwear that appears on a Faroese stamp from 10.04.1989. The commonly worn Faroese hat was traditionally made of wool. It either has stripes in red and black striped or in blue and black - the blue variant most often being used by elderly men. At the top, the hat has 13 folds which gives it a canted look. Today, the topmost part of the hat is folded down sideways and stitched - and carried like a military side cap, sometimes known as garrison caps, with straight sides.

There is some disagreement as to whether one should wear the hat slanting from the left or the right but it is most commonly worn slanted to the left. This means that the wearer can lift the hat with his left hand and greet others with his right. In the days of old the slanted part was not stitched down - and in old pictures you can see that the hat was worn in quite a random fashion, with no regard to the way it turned. From my childhood I remember an old man who carried his wrapping tobacco in his hat - but how commonly the hat was used as a pocket, I really do not know.

This stamp issue concludes Edvard Fuglø’s series featuring the Faroese national costume - the everyday nineteenth century apparel, which has become today's national dress worn by young and old for both festive and formal occasions.

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