Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Letter 17::The "Mamlouc" cap: a fashion mystery?
Written by JulieW
(11/26/2006 9:53 a.m.)
I found the illustration of this elusive garment in my copy of The So-Called Age of Elegance, a record of the papers read at the UK's Costume Society's Spring Conference, 1970. It was included in Anne Buck's fascinating paper,entitledThe Costume of Jane Austen and her Characters.
Anne Buck was, of course, the world renowned 18th century clothes historian and author of Clothes in Eighteenth Century England.If anyone could find an illustration of a "mamlouc" cap, she could :-)
I call this illustration of this head covering "elusive" because no one else seems to have been able to find another pictoral depiction of this hat.
Indeed , in a review of Jane Austen in Fashion by Marsha Huff ( which can be seen on the JASNA website), Ms Huff seems annoyed it was not included in that book:
I read Jane Austen Fashion hoping to learn more about the famous Mamalouc cap. I was, however, unable to reconcile Byrde’s description of a satin turban, trimmed with an ostrich feather, with that of Constance Hill (quoted by Deirdre Le Faye in the notes to her edition of Austen’s Letters), who wrote that a Mamalouc cap was a toupee, somewhat resembling a fez. Since Austen chose not to describe the cap she wore that January night in 1799, a fashion mystery remains
Constance Hill had this to say about the cap:
The word Mamalouc is given as Mamalone in Lord Brabourne's "Letters of Jane Austen," which is evidently a clerical error; the letters uc in the MS. having been mistaken for ne. The battle of the Nile, fought in the preceding August, had set the fashion in ladies' dress for everything suggestive of Egypt and of the hero of Aboukir. In the fashion-plates of the day we find Mamalouc cloaks and Mamalouc robes of flowing red cloth. Ladies wear toupées, somewhat resembling a fez, which we recognise as the "Mamalouc cap." Their hats are adorned with the "Nelson rose feather," and their dainty feet encased in "green morocco slippers bound with yellow and laced with crocodile-coloured ribbon."
Chapter 7 ,Jane Austen :Her Homes and her FriendsG. E. Mitton in Jane Austen and her Times(1905) also describes the cap, as thus :
The word "mamalouc" was used at this time to describe many articles of dress; it had come into fashion after Nelson's great victory in Egypt, and there were mamalouc cloaks as well as caps, but whether these articles of attire bore the most distant resemblance to those worn in Egypt, or whether the word was tacked on to them merely for the purpose of advertisement, I do not know.
See Chapter 13.
I don't think any mystery remains about it,having seen the illustration , do you?
It certainly is not fez-like, though.Has anyone seen a picture of a fashionable mamalouc cap which does resemble a fez?
Clearly the eastern allusion is in the form of the "cresent" ,which presumably clips the ostrich feather to the cap.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.