Rus Hat

Probable pointed caps were identified in two Birka graves by the presence of conical silver terminal mounts (Arbman 1940-3; Geijer 1938; Hägg 1986; Roesdahl and Wilson 1992). Traces of silk were found on the inside of the mounts. In one case, the hat was further decorated with four woven silver wire pendants. On the other cap (in grave Bj644), a woven gold wire 'passement' band was apparently fastened from the brow to the peak (Hägg 1986).

Reconstruction: Wool was chosen as the base fabric of the hat, as silk would have insufficent strength to support the silver terminal, and perhaps would not have been put to such extravagant use in any case. However, silk trims were added, to account for the traces found inside the mounts. Appliqued silk bands on clothing are known from several high-status burials, such as Oseberg, Mammen, and Birka (Hägg 1983; Krafft 1956; Østergård 1991). The fur trim was added after the reconstruction of Arbman (Tryckare 1966), perhaps on the basis of later Russian manuscripts and ethnological material. The fur is marmot, which was also used, probably as cloak lining, in clothing from the Mammen burial (Nationalmuseet Copenhagen: pers. obs. 1994). For economy's sake, the gold 'passement' from grave Bj644 (Geijer 1938) was copied in silver wire. The conical mount is cast silver, based on photographs of a (sheet silver and filigree) original from grave Bj 581 (identical to, but more comple te than the mount from Bj644).


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