HATS AND HABITATIONS.
Theory of Relation Between Houses and Headgear Expounded by an Architect.
“Hats and Houses” was the subject of a novel 20-minute illustrated talk lately given by Edgar Allen Poe Newcomb, the architect, in the rooms of the Young Women’s Christian association, says the Honolulu Advertiser. Mr. Newcomb’s address was intended to show the relationship of the headgear of various peoples in both ancient and modern times to their habitations and public buildings. In 40 large colored illustrations, designed personally by Mr. Newcomb, the similarity was made striking. The designs were arranged in pairs, one to show the hat and manner of wearing, and the other the style of architecture based upon it.
The speaker began by saying that his talk was upon “Hats and Houses, or Headgear and Habitation,” but which should come first in order was difficult to determine, as difficult as it is to determine whether primitive man wore clothes before he chose his cave. He said that every nation under the sun has its own style of architecture, as well as certain kind of headgear peculiar to its people. Helmets, turbans, miters, bonnets, hats and wigs seem to bear a certain likeness to domes, spires, turrets, pagodas, gables and frontons, but just why this should be he was unable to say.
In some of the examples shown Mr. Newcomb called attention to the fact that the headdress bore the form of the whole building, as in the Hawaiian, Laplander and Egyptian styles; in some it resembled only the crowning point of the building, as in the Grecian, Roman, Russian and Turkish styles, and in others the form was only carried through the detail of the building, as in the Rococo style. Speaking of the ancient styles of architecture, he called attention to the grass house of the Hawaiian islands, which seemed to have been the prevailing style long before civilization placed her frigid finger on the natives and turned their attention to clothes. What the natives first took to he was unable to say, but he knew that the Hawaiian hat as worn to-day was one of the characteristic things now made and worn here. He showed an illustration of the lei-bedecked hat and also a companion picture of an old-time grass hut, the similarity of appearance being remarkable. Next was shown a picture of Egyptian wearing the peculiar headgear which is seen in the architectural features of their temples—a flat top with the sides diverging. The tall pagoda-shaped hats of the Chinese showed a remarkable likeness to the pagoda temples of the celestial empire.
A Greek shepherd of ancient times was shown wearing a hat shaped much like the triangular roof on the public buildings and temples, the glory of the ancient Grecian architecture. A round helmet worn by a Roman soldier, fitting closely to his head, was of the shape of the great domes upon the old Roman buildings. A picture of a Turkish turban resembled the domes upon their mosques.
The crusader wore a tent-shaped hat, surmounted by a cross with havelock attachments; the tents which the crusaders used in their journeys to the Holy Land resembled the hat. In mediaeval times ladies wore a long conical hat, and in those days tall, graceful spires were the chief architectural feature of the churches, Kings of old France wore huge curly wigs, which were shams and often covered bald heads; the architecture of their times was also a sham, consisting of ornamentation which covered a plain background. The ornamentation had much the appearance of the curled wigs. This is especially noticeable in the Rococo style. In Spain, caps, with wrinkles in the brims, are worn by women, and the houses in which they live and the churches in which they worship have tiled roofs looking much like the wrinkles in the hats. The Indians of North America wore feathered headgear; their wigwams and tepees greatly resembled these odd hair ornamentations. The Puritan conical hat found its resemblance in the steeples which were invariably erected over the rude churches of early New England.
The plain and severe sunbonnet of the grandmothers of 60 and 70 years ago found its reflection in the plain austere and the architecturally ugly houses of the frontier. Even in Ireland, Pat’s saucer-like hat looked like the hovel in which he lived. The Laplanders wore caps of fur which enveloped the faces like muffs; the ice houses in which they lived were the same shape, the entrance being a round hole through which they crawled to the interior. In the tall silk tiles affected nowadays by the swagger set Mr. Newcomb saw a resemblance in the great skyscrapers found in all the large cities.
(Paducah Daily Sun, 6/9/1902, p. 7)