Hand-sewn christening hat with gold lace

In the object collection saved after the Bruun family on Børøya in Hadsel we find many christening hats. The hats are sewn by hand, and do not look quite as we are used to seeing today. During the christening today, the baby usually wears a long white dress and white hat.

In the 1700s, it was common for the baby to be linden, a process of wrapping the baby tightly in a wide ribbon to recreate the safe feeling in the womb. In addition, the baby might have worn a colorful christening jacket, and a colorful christening hat, perhaps with a white lace cape under hat, sticking out underneath. The white cape eventually became common to wear without the colorful hat, and is the starting point of today’s white christening hats with lace.

This christening hat is made of maroon, large-patterned silk brocade, and decorated with gold lace. Gold lace is, as the name implies, made with gold threads. Traditionally, they had a core either of silk or linen, which was upholstered in gold.

In Norwegian folklore, metals have often been associated with the dangerous creatures living under ground, “underjordiske”. For example, one would put something of metal in the cradle, and this would protect the child from being taken by the “underjordiske”.

Decorating the baby’s hat with gold lace would therefore have several functions. You gave the baby something very beautiful and expensive, as an expression of the love between mother and child, the gold in the hat demonstrated to everyone in society about the state of your family’s wealth, that the baby was part of a rich and well-kept family, and that you kept the “underjordiske” away from the very dearest in your life.

This christening hat is part of the collection at Melbo Manor

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