Just like the gold hats of Germany and Switzerland, the Upper Austrian gold hats developed from a bonnet worn in the 18th century. The Linzer gold hat was first mentioned in 1782 (Linzer Haubm). Its origins were not actually in Linz but in three Austrian valleys: the Kremstal, Steyertal and Almtal. Originally, it was a type of bonnet made of gold material covering a black velvet base with a broad band of gold lace around the rim. A grey hat edged with gold or silver braid was worn over this bonnet.
The women who originally wore the gold hat costumes belonged to the scythe-maker guilds, the industrial royalty at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Upper Austrian towns such as Wels and Steyr and also Passau in Germany were also involved in the further development of these hats in addition to Linz.
From 1780, the form of the hat changed, the grey hat disappeared and the whole of the bonnet became golden. The base of the hat (Böndl), which was originally the most important part of the hat, virtually disappeared, becoming just a pommel the size of a ball situated at the top of the back of the head. The highly curved form of the headdress tends to be only present in the relatively newer forms (from ca. 1835). The hats were made industrially in this form by special female hatters from 1860 onwards.
Parallel to the gold hats, hats in the Linz form were made of black material (tulle, gauze), too. In the second half of the 19th century, long black glass beads were used to decorate them giving them the name beaded hats (Perlhaube). After 1860, a black silk taffeta scarf became more commonly used.
Later on, the skill of making the precious Linz gold hat was lost and the production of these types of hat is no longer done professionally. However, nowadays in Upper Austria, there are 17 groups of women (ca. 18,000) who have formed clubs that are actively involved in nourishing and cherishing this tradition as well as being involved in various charitable works. The hats are worn on special occasions by married women. Younger women wear another style of bonnet, which has a baby-bonnet form (Mädchenhaube). The fine embroidery on the gold hats is done using a spiral made of gold wire known as bullion or purl (Boulliangarn or Kantillen in German), gold sequins and beads.
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