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The bonnet has been in the collection since 1960, yet is not known how came to be included there. Four photographs from the exhibit are preserved in the Museum’s archives, purchased in the late 1960s or early 1970s. On the reverse side there is a note stating that the bonnet's owner was Ludwika Popardowska from Brzezna, a village near Nowy Sącz, and it was her mother’s memorabilia.

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The bonnet has been in the collection since 1960, yet is not known how came to be included there. Four photographs from the exhibit are preserved in the Museum’s archives, purchased in the late 1960s or early 1970s. On the reverse side there is a note stating that the bonnet's owner was Ludwika Popardowska from Brzezna, a village near Nowy Sącz, and it was her mother’s memorabilia.
Dated to the 2nd half of the 18th century, the bonnet is a unique and rare exhibit. It was made in Poland from imported lace. Its shape is modelled in such a way that it clings tightly to the head, covering the ears and forehead with a semi-circular arch. The entire bonnet is decorated with chess lace, often found in Jewish products, which was made of metal thread or plaques. The lace was arranged in a pattern of seven curling stems with stylized leaves and flowers, reaching from the root to the top of the bonnet. In addition, it is decorated with lace rosettes with sequins, silvery and gold beads, and brown and blue beads inside. The edge of the bonnet, in the section adjacent to the face, is trimmed with white, wrinkled tulle.
Bonnets were the most popular and decorative headwear worn by married, pious Jewish women who, after marriage, cut their hair and covered their heads. There were different types of bonnets – more modest ones that were worn every day,  more ornate festive varieties, and light, batiste types that were worn at night. The decorative form of the Nowy Sącz bonnet indicates that it belonged to the festive category of headgear. They were usually made of silk brooch, brocade and velvet. Very often they were entirely covered with embroidery, sequins, plaques and trimmed with lace.


Elaborated by Edyta Ross-Pazdyk (Nowy Sącz District Museum), © all rights reserved

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As a sign of modesty

According to a Jewish tradition, married women, but also divorcees and widows, should, as a sign of modesty (cnius), cover their hair in public places. This prescription is imposed in various forms. In orthodox environments, women still shave their heads and cover them with headscarves, called tichel, although according to Halakha (religious law) it is not necessary.

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According to a Jewish tradition, married women, but also divorcees and widows, should, as a sign of modesty (cnius), cover their hair in public places. This prescription is imposed in various forms. In orthodox environments, women still shave their heads and cover them with headscarves, called tichel, although according to Halakha (religious law) it is not necessary.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the custom of wearing wigs, called sheytl or sheitel became popular. According to some rabbis, wigs, often more beautiful than the natural hair of a married woman, were just a way to bypass the unwanted prohibition and maintain an attractive look also after the wedding.
The custom of covering hair by religious Jewish women came from biblical times and in this interpretation, it becomes a sign of disgrace and shame for Eve’s sin. The explanation associated with the special relationship between a woman and her husband seems more interesting, however. First of all, the public covering of hair becomes a sign for other men that a woman using it is already engaged. Secondly, the real hair of a married woman (if it has not been shaved) is only to be seen by her husband, thus becoming a symbol of the intimacy that exists between them.
The unusually ornate caul presented on our site, located in the collections of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz, is an example of a headwear, which only very wealthy Jewish women could afford, and even then was mostly used during holidays.

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See the Jewish woman’s caul from the collection of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz.

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Bonnet of a Jewess

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