Sunday, February 16, 2014

History's Runway: The Doge's Corno Ducale, 1675-99

Corno Ducale
Venice, Italy
The Victoria & Albert Museum

For over a thousand years, from 700AD until 1797, the Italian city-state of Venice was ruled over by a chief magistrate who was known as the Doge. The Doge was chosen by a committee comprised of members of the leading aristocratic families of Venice.  This magistrate held the office for the duration of his life.  The Doge, among other perks, was given a special hat.  I think all leaders should have special hats.

The hat that we see here is an example of the “corno ducale,” a ceremonial crown which was worn by the Doge over a cap of fine linen which was known as a “camauro.”

These caps were hand-made by the nuns of the Convent of San Zaccaria.  A new cap was presented to the Doge every Easter Monday, following a procession from San Marco to the convent.  How nice!

corno ducale dates between 1675 and 1699 and is made of gold silk and metal thread brocade.  The crown of the hat curves up into a smooth vertical protrusion at the back. The whole thing is trimmed with metal braiding.

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