The German word Radhaube is a generic term for various halo-like hats used with traditional costumes in a number of regions in Europe, though particularly in Germany and Austria. They were developed from simpler forms of hats (see Germany and Austria: Hats 1 & 2). The Radhaube vary according to materials, production techniques used and the social standing of the wearer: silver, gold or chenille hats, fan hats (Fächerhauben), floral halo hats (Blumenradhauben), burgess (Bürgerhauben) or patrician hats (Patrizierhauben). The halo hat from the Bodensee (Lake Constance) region — the Bodensee-Radhaube — is a prime example and was awarded the status of an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2010.
The halo hat, like so many regional costumes (Trachten) in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, was developed and bloomed in the 19th century. After losing popularity, there was a renewal in their use from ca. 1920 and a further rejuvenation from about 1955 onwards.
The halo hat is not only traditionally in gold like the Lake Constance type but the stitching may also be in black such as those found in St. Gallen (Lake Constance region), Liechtenstein, many towns in the Vorarlberg region, southern Germany and eastern Switzerland. In addition, in various towns in southern Germany and Gressoney, the stitching is in white with brightly coloured embroidery. In a few places in eastern Austria and in Vorarlberg, the halo hats are in silver.
The form of the halo varies between the steep and smooth (glatt) halos of the Oberschwaben, Vorarlberg, St. Gallen, Fürsterland and Thurgau regions to the backwards leaning halos of Villingen and Lake Constance.
This type of hat has four basic parts in addition to the halo: the Bödele, Steif, Spitzenvorstoß and Masche (names from Feldkirch in Austria but other names are used elsewhere apparently). The Bödele consists of arched cardboard covered in gold cloth (Goldstoff). The Stief is made of a metal frame and stiff hat-maker’s material. The lamé lace ornaments are sewn onto the basic structures of the Bödele and Steif. The Spitzenvorstoß or Spitz is the remains of the Dousette cap worn in the 17th century. This part is made of cotton tatting supported by a metal framework. The Masche is make of silk woven using the Jacquard method. The Masche is white in Feldkirch and throughout the Vorarlberg. It is very difficult nowadays to buy the proper type of Jacquard silk, so other types of silk are used.
A special method using seven threads is used to produce the lamé gold lace for the Lake Constance halo. The name for this technique of making lace in southern Germany is Hohlspitze or hollow lace; elsewhere it is called Schlauchspitze (pipe lace) or Windungsspitze (winding lace).The seven threads are subdivided into three types: (1) Plattfaden [otherwise known as Plätt, Plasch, Lahn (flattened thread) or from the French, Lamé thread], (2) Seelenfäden (core threads) and (3) Gespinstfäden (web threads). The most important thread is the Plattfaden, which is wound around two Seelenfaden. So that these threads do not slip, they are kept in place using the Gespinstfäden.
This method of lace production comes from the Jewish region of Galicia (Poland), where such lace was made in large amounts to hem prayer shawls (Atarot) or to make the Jewish prayer caps (Kipa) for learned men as well as for other textiles. This type of lace was subsequently also used in Catholic religious materials, such as for the clothing of Jesus of Prague figures in Munich or for the edging of skirts of the catacomb saints in Edelstetten and for flags (Bad Waldsee). Soon afterwards, this type of lace was used in hat-making. In Ulm, for example, the 18th century Bockelhaube was also known as a Jew’s bonnet (Judenhauben) because either Jewish tradesmen sold the completed hats or the material for making them.
The most important aspect of Lamé lace is that the pattern can be seen from both the front and back. Even though the pattern motives are repeated on the halo, they change in size and form as the halo is not a regular circle. Like the Steif and Spitz, the halo is also supported by a metal frame.
In some regions, such as Altstätten, Rorschach and Sigmaringen, the halo is produced using a simpler method of tatting using 12—16 bobbins with gold Gespinst and Lahn threads [so-called Palmettenspitze (palmette lace), Fächerspitze (fan lace), Muschelspitze (shell lace)]. Originally, this type of gold or silver lace was produced by nunneries and was cheap enough that it could even be afforded by the middle class. Another method of making the halo uses a form of gold thread netting. A pattern made of lamé lace is then sewn onto this base.
The black halo hats are also produced used different methods of lace production. Some older hats have cut stones or pearls worked into the pattern.