Beret
Overview
 
A beret is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat
Hat
A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

, crocheted cotton, or wool felt
Felt
Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing woollen fibres. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any colour, and made into any shape or size....

, or acrylic fiber
Acrylic fiber
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate...

.

The modern beret is derived from the Greek pilos, which came to be known in Rome as the pileolus and later, beretto. It was first mass-produced in 19th century France and Spain; countries with which it remains associated. Berets are worn as part of the uniform of many military and police units worldwide, as well as by other organizations.
Beret (originally berret and berretto) is from the diminutive form biretum of the Latinized Greek word birrus, which was the name of a knit sailor's cap.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A beret is a soft, round, flat-crowned hat
Hat
A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

, designated a "cap", usually of woven, hand-knitted wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

, crocheted cotton, or wool felt
Felt
Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing woollen fibres. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any colour, and made into any shape or size....

, or acrylic fiber
Acrylic fiber
Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000, about 1900 monomer units. To be called acrylic in the U.S, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer. Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate...

.

The modern beret is derived from the Greek pilos, which came to be known in Rome as the pileolus and later, beretto. It was first mass-produced in 19th century France and Spain; countries with which it remains associated. Berets are worn as part of the uniform of many military and police units worldwide, as well as by other organizations.

Etymology

Beret (originally berret and berretto) is from the diminutive form biretum of the Latinized Greek word birrus, which was the name of a knit sailor's cap. This word is probably a close relative to Old Irish berr 'short', Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 byr, Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 berr 'short', all thought to be from Proto-Celtic
Proto-Celtic language
The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics...

 *birro-. But there are also more ancient forms, from the older Greek birrus and the slightly later Latin pilus. These give us the related English words "berry" and "pillow".

History

Archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 and art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 indicate that headgear similar to the modern beret has been worn since the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 across northern Europe and as far south as ancient Crete and Italy, where it was worn by the Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

s, Roman
Roman
Roman or Romans may refer to:* A thing or person of or from the city of Rome-History:* Ancient Rome ** Roman Kingdom ** Roman Republic ** Roman Empire...

s and Etruscans. Such headgear has been popular among the nobility and artists across Europe throughout modern history.

The Scots bonnaid ("bonnet") derives from the same source, and the Gaelic term also derives from the Latin pilus.

The so-called "Basque" beret was worn by Basque
Basque people
The Basques as an ethnic group, primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country , a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.The Basques are known in the...

 shepherds in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, a mountain range that straddles the border between southern France and northern Spain. The colors originally varied by region (red in Gipuzkoa, white in Álava
Álava
Álava is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Álava. Its capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz which is also the capital of the autonomous community...

, blue in Vizcaya
Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

), but eventually the Basques settled on blue berets, and the people from Navarre
Navarre
Navarre , officially the Chartered Community of Navarre is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France...

 adopted red berets as part of their folk costume while the black beret became common headgear in France and Spain.

The commercial production of Basque style berets began in the 17th century in the Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Oloron-Sainte-Marie is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in south-western France. The town of Oloron-Sante-Marie is positioned at the junction of two rivers and has a population of approximately 12,000. While not spectacular, it is a pleasant looking town, with an ancient quarter,...

 area of southern France. Originally a local craft, beret-making became industrialized in the nineteenth century. The first factory, Beatex-Laulhere, claims production records dating back to 1810. By the 1920s, berets were associated with the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

es in France, and by 1928 more than 20 French factories produced millions of berets.

In Western fashion, men and women have worn the beret since the 1920s as sportswear and later as a fashion statement. Military beret
Military beret
Berets have been a component of the uniforms of many armed forces throughout the world since the mid-20th century. Military berets are usually pushed to the right to free the shoulder that bears the rifle on most soldiers, but the armies of some European countries have influenced the push to the...

s were adopted by Alpine troops in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and popularized as a badge of elite units by Field Marshal Montgomery in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Wear

The beret fits snugly around the head, and can be "shaped" in a variety of ways – in the Americas it is commonly worn pushed to one side. In Central and South America, local custom usually prescribes the manner of wearing the beret; there is no universal rule and older gentlemen usually wear it squared on the head, jutting forward. It can be worn by both men and women.

Military uniform berets feature a headband or sweatband attached to the wool, made either from leather, silk, or cotton ribbon, sometimes with a drawstring
Drawstring
A drawstring is a string, cord, or rope used to "draw" or tie closed an opening in fabric or other material...

 allowing the wearer to tighten the hat. The drawstrings are, according to custom, either tied and cut off/tucked in or else left to dangle. The beret is often adorned with a cap badge
Cap badge
A cap badge, also known as head badge or hat badge, is a badge worn on uniform headgear and distinguishes the wearer's nationality and/or organisation. The wearing of cap badges is a convention commonly found among military and police forces, as well as uniformed civilian groups such as the Boy...

, either in cloth or metal. Some berets have a piece of buckram
Buckram
Buckram is a stiff cloth, made of cotton, and still occasionally linen, which is used to cover and protect books. Buckram can also be used to stiffen clothes. Modern buckrams have been stiffened by soaking in a substance, usually now pyroxylin, to fill the gaps between the fibres.In the Middle...

 or other stiffener in the position where the badge is intended to be worn.

Berets are not usually lined, but many are partially lined with silk or satin. In military berets, the headband is worn on the outside; military berets often have external sweatbands of leather, pleather or ribbon. The traditional beret (also worn by selected military units, such as the Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais
Regiment of Ardennian Rifles
The Regiment of Ardennian Rifles is an infantry regiment in the Land Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. The regiment is a part of the 7th Brigade...

 or the French Chasseurs Alpins), usually has the "sweatband" folded inwardly. In such a case, these berets have only an additional inch or so of the same woolen material designed to be folded inwardly.

New beret styles, fully lined and made of "Polar fleece", have become popular. These are unique in that they are machine washable.

France

The black beret
Black beret
The black beret is a type of headgear commonly worn by armoured forces around the world including the British Army's Royal Tank Regiment , The Canadian Forces's Royal Canadian Armoured Corps , and The Australian Army's Royal Australian Armoured Corps among others...

 was once considered the national cap of France in Anglo-Saxon countries and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny
Onion Johnny
Onion Johnny is the nickname given to the Breton farmers and agricultural laborers that sell distinctive pink onions door-to-door in Great Britain.They finally adapt this nickname for themselves as ar Johniged or ar Johnniged in Breton language....

. It is no longer as widely worn as it once was. There are only two manufacturers left in France (the world-famous Hoquy family among them).

Spain

In Spain, berets are known as boinas or chapelas (from the Basque, txapela; also the Basque chapo after the French chapeau). They have long been common headgear, especially across the northern part of the country, in regions such as Navarre, Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. They tend to be less common in the warmer south central and southern regions.

Basque Country

Berets were popularized across Europe and other parts of the world as typical Basque
Basque
Basque may refer to:* The Basque language* The Basque people* A type of clothing:**A short basque; see torsolette**An old basque; see basque See also:* List of Basques...

 headgear, as reflected in their name in several languages (e.g. Baskenmütze in German or Basco in Italian). They are still worn in the Basque Country
Basque Country
The Basque Country may refer to one of three areas inhabited by the Basque people:*The Basque Country , an autonomous community of Spain *The Basque Country , the approximate cultural area of...

, although their use is more common among older men.

A commemorative beret is the usual trophy in sport or bertso
Bertsolaritza
Bertsolaritza or bertsolarism is the art of singing extemporary composed songs in Basque according to various melodies and rhyming patterns...

competitions, including Basque rural sports or the Basque portions of the Tour de France
Tour de France
The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The...

. The Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

 word for champion, txapeldun, literally means "the one in a beret".

Scotland

There are several Scottish variants of the beret, notably the Scottish bonnet or Bluebonnet (originally bonaid in Gaelic), whose ribbon cockade and feathers identify the wearer’s clan and rank), and which is a symbol of Scottish patriotism. Other Scottish types include the tam-o'-shanter (named by Robert Burns
Robert Burns
Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide...

 after a character in one of his poems) and the striped Kilmarnock cap, both of which feature a large pompom in the center.

South America

In South America, both wool and cotton berets are commonly seen as headwear among Gauchos in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile, most of which are manufactured by Bonigor SA of Argentina and Fábrica Nacional de Sombreros of Uruguay. Though common enough among the general population, berets seem to be avoided by indigenous groups. Most likely the wearing of the beret, as in Spain, is largely dependent on the climate.

As uniform headgear

The beret's practicality has long made it an item of European military clothing. It has often become a part of the uniform of soldiers, both informally and formally; a practise that has, in recent times, been copied around the world (see Military beret
Military beret
Berets have been a component of the uniforms of many armed forces throughout the world since the mid-20th century. Military berets are usually pushed to the right to free the shoulder that bears the rifle on most soldiers, but the armies of some European countries have influenced the push to the...

 and Uniform beret
Uniform beret
This article describes the use of the beret as part of the uniform of various organizations. The use of the beret as military headgear is covered in a dedicated article, Military beret.-Hong Kong:...

). Among a few well known historic examples are the Scottish soldiers, who wore the blue bonnet in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Volontaires Cantabres, a French force raised in the Basque country in the 1740s to the 1760s, who also wore a blue beret, and the Carlist rebels, with their red berets, in 1830s Spain.

In fashion and culture

The beret is part of the long-standing stereotype of the intellectual
Intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

, film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

, artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

, "hipsters
Hipster (contemporary subculture)
Hipsters are a subculture of young, recently settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with musical interests mainly in alternative rock that appeared in the 1990s...

", poet, bohemian
Bohemian
A Bohemian is a resident of the former Kingdom of Bohemia, either in a narrow sense as the region of Bohemia proper or in a wider meaning as the whole country, now known as the Czech Republic. The word "Bohemian" was used to denote the Czech people as well as the Czech language before the word...

s and beatnik
Beatnik
Beatnik was a media stereotype of the 1950s and early 1960s that displayed the more superficial aspects of the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s and violent film images, along with a cartoonish depiction of the real-life people and the spiritual quest in Jack Kerouac's autobiographical...

s. In America and Britain, the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of berets in women's fashion. In the later part of the twentieth century, the beret was adopted by the Chinese both as a fashion statement and for its political undertones.

As a revolutionary symbol

One of the most famous photographs of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, El Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico
Guerrillero Heroico is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara wearing his black beret taken by Alberto Korda. It was taken on March 5, 1960, in Havana, Cuba, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion and by the end of the 1960s turned the charismatic and...

, shows him wearing a black beret with a red star.

In the 1960s several activist groups adopted the black beret
Black beret
The black beret is a type of headgear commonly worn by armoured forces around the world including the British Army's Royal Tank Regiment , The Canadian Forces's Royal Canadian Armoured Corps , and The Australian Army's Royal Australian Armoured Corps among others...

. These include the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

 of the United States, formed in 1966, the "Black Beret Cadre" (a similar Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 organisation in Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

), the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 and the ETA
ETA
ETA , an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country...

 guerrillas (who wore black berets over hoods in public appearances). In addition, the Brown Berets
Brown Berets
The Brown Berets is a Chicano nationalist activist group of young Mexican Americans that emerged during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and remains active to the present day. The group was seen as part of the Third Movement for Liberation. The Brown Berets focus on community organizing...

 were a Chicano
Chicano
The terms "Chicano" and "Chicana" are used in reference to U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. However, those terms have a wide range of meanings in various parts of the world. The term began to be widely used during the Chicano Movement, mainly among Mexican Americans, especially in the movement's...

 organisation formed in 1967. The Young Lords Party, a Latino revolutionary organization in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, also wore berets.

Rastafarians

Adherents of the Rastafari movement
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

 often wear a very large knitted or crocheted black beret with red, gold, and green circles atop their dreadlocks
Dreadlocks
Dreadlocks, also called locks, a ras, dreads, "rasta" or Jata , are matted coils of hair. Dreadlocks are usually intentionally formed; because of the variety of different hair textures, various methods are used to encourage the formation of locks such as backcombing...

. The style is often erroneously called a kufi, after the skullcap known as kufune. They consider the beret and dreadlocks to be symbols of the biblical covenant of God with his chosen people, the "black Israelites".

See also

  • Biretta
    Biretta
    The biretta is a square cap with three or four peaks or horns, sometimes surmounted by a tuft. Traditionally the three peaked biretta is worn by Roman Catholic clergy and some Anglican and Lutheran clergy. The four peaked biretta is worn as academic dress by those holding a doctoral degree from a...

  • Military berets by color: Black beret
    Black beret
    The black beret is a type of headgear commonly worn by armoured forces around the world including the British Army's Royal Tank Regiment , The Canadian Forces's Royal Canadian Armoured Corps , and The Australian Army's Royal Australian Armoured Corps among others...

    , blue beret, green beret
    Green beret
    The green beret was the official headdress of the British Commandos of World War II. It is still worn with pride by members of the Royal Marines after passing the Commando Course and any member of the British Military who has passed the All Arms Commando Course.There are certain other military...

    , maroon beret
    Maroon beret
    The maroon beret is a military beret and has been an international symbol of elite airborne forces since it was chosen for British airborne forces in World War II. This distinctive head dress was officially introduced in 1942, at the direction of General Frederick Browning, commander of the British...

    , tan beret
    Tan beret
    The tan beret has been adopted as official headdress by several special operations forces as a symbol of their unique capabilities.-British Army:...

  • Mohair berets
    Mohair berets
    Mohair berets - a tongue-in-cheek expression that stands for people who support the views expressed by Polish conservative Catholic movement with its main representative being the media strictly connected with Father Tadeusz Rydzyk. This expression originated from the characteristic headgear worn...

  • Tudor bonnet
    Tudor bonnet
    A Tudor bonnet is a traditional soft round cap, with a tassel hanging from a cord encircling the puggaree of the hat...

  • Caubeen
    Caubeen
    The caubeen is an Irish beret. It was formerly worn by peasants; however, it has since been adopted as the headdress of the Irish regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies, where its formal name is the "Bonnet, Irish, Green".-Name:...

  • Zucchetto
    Zucchetto
    The zucchetto , a/k/a pileolus in Latin and calotte/calotta in France, Italy and Hispanic nations, is a small skullcap worn by clerics of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism....


External links

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