Russian people have always attached particular importance to headdresses. For Cossacks, a hat is the most important piece of an outfit. It is as important as a crucifix or a personal weapon – a sword. Losing a hat for a Cossack is like losing respect of people or losing self-esteem.
The History of Cossack Black Hat – Papaha
Russian Cossack hat, often black, is called papaha. Hats that resemble papaha are presented in many nations. Papaha most likely came to Cossacks from the highlanders neighboring Cossacks. This is understandable, since Cossacks often raided the surrounding nations and brought back as trophies different items of clothing. Most likely, Cossacks liked papaha and it very quickly became an important part of the Cossack clothes.
Cossacks in the Palais Royal. You can see tall black hats with red tops / Paris / Georg Emanuel Opitz
What Is a Cossack’s Hat
Papaha is a fur short “pipe” with the fur on the outside. The height of the pipe may be different. The fur can also be long, “hairy”, or it could be with a short nap. The top of the hat is colored. Frequently – red. The top is flat or with a cap. It can be crossed with a ribbon in the form of a cross.
Customs Associated with Papaha
Papaha has to be taken off during prayer, taking oath or while giving a speech. And inside a house.
To throw off papaha from a Cossack’s head intentionally or recklessly means to inflict a grave insult.
If a young Cossack wanted to confess his love to a girl, he threw his papaha in the window of his girl. If a girl kept his headdress, it meant that she accepted the offer. You could then send matchmakers – she will not decline.
Puppet show at a cafe. On the left on a Cossack you can see a tall black papaha with a red top / Paris / Georg Emanuel Opitz
The most things Cossacks kept inside their fur hats. It could be an icon of a saint, valuable military orders or instructions.
The look of papaha had to be the same for the residents from the same village.