BONNET (OF. bon[itlet, Fr. bonnet, from Low Lat. bonela, from bon[nictus, the stuff of which the article was made, possibly Hind. woolen cloth, broadcloth). A covering for the head, distinguished from the hat (q.v.) by being brimless.
Since the distinction between bonnets, hats, and caps has, in all periods, been to a great ex tent arbitrary, the history of bonnets is of neces sity involved in that of the head-covering in gen eral, and especially the cap. Just as the hat is the direct descendant of the roomy petasos of the ancient Greeks, with its broad brim for pro tection from the sun, the bonnet. in its original significance, is a descendant of the pi/cos, the conical, close-fitting cap of the Greek soldier. seaman, and mechanic. it was made of cloth, leather, or felt, and resembled the modern fez. This same cap was worn by the Roman artisan. It differed from the modern Phrygian bonnet or liberty cap (q.v.) in not having the top bent or drooping forward. The mitra was a tall cap worn by the Persians and the neighboring na tions during the Greco-Roman epoch. One form was alluded to as the Phrygian cap. Persons of dignity wore another style, which ended in an ornament, and frequently resembled our modern conventional crown. This cap was in general use in Western Asia from the time of the As syrian Empire to the time of the Parthian wars against Rome. In this connection may be men tioned the 'bonnets' in Ex. xXix. 9, and Lev. viii. 13, the round mitres worn by ordinary Jewish priests as distinguished from the headdress like half an egg in shape, peculiar to the high priests. 'Mitre' in Ex. xxviii. 4. and 'diadem' in Ezek.
xxi. 20, translate the same Hebrew word. A closely related headgear was the tiara-shaped cap worn by priests and married men and women. It is commonly supposed that the bishop's mitre and the tiara of the Pope are derived from the Asiatic headdresses.
The European bonnet of the Middle Ages was of cloth, silk, or velvet, according to the taste of the wearer, and varied greatly in shape at dif ferent periods. Among women it frequently adopted such grotesque proportions as the hen win, worn in the Fifteenth Century—an absurdly high bonnet, mounted on cardboard. In the Six teenth Century, hats, too, began to be generally worn. The Scotch clung to their old bonnet, cele brated by stories and songs. The braid bonnet of the Lowland peasantry, broad, round, and flat in shape. overshadowing the face and neck, resem bled the bonnet Bearnais or beret Basque of the smith of France. It was dark blue in eolor, ex cept the red tuft. on the top. The fabric was of wool. without seam or lining, and exceedingly durable. From having been worn until compara tively recent times by small rural proprietors, it gave to the local notabilities the distinctive ap pellation of 'bonnet-lairds.' The Highlanders have long worn of the same fabric, but of different shape. The Balmoral is flat, and resembles the Lowland bonnet. The Glengarry rises to a point. in front and is without any brim. The 411engarry was the undress fatigue-eap of the British infantry, but has now been super seded by what is known the 'field-yap,' provided with flaps to cover the cars. See COSTUME.