View Full Version : A kerchief on her head....

21-02-04, 15:10
I remember that my grandmother always wore a kerchief over her hair when she was in her house or working outside. It was simply a square folded crosswise and tied under her chin. The other Grandmas in our Swede-Finn neighbourhood did the same.

When a relative in Korsnas, Finland sent me information about Korsnas I found a brochure of a museum in Korsnas. There was a photo of a group of ladies in costume knitting a sweater together and each wore a kerchief just like my Grandma.

Can anyone tell me more about the kerchief? Was that the custom for the Osterbotten area? Is it just a Swedish custom?

21-02-04, 18:18
Hi Claire,
From a book by Bo Lönnqvist Dräkt och Mode i ett landsbygdssamhälle 1870+1920 the chapter on Huvudduk
(Clothing and fashion in a country community, headcoverings).
summarized: The most common head covering during that period was a four cornered striped, checked or one color scarf, folded to a triangle, tied under the chin, so the outer point hid the inner point. If you didn't hide the inner point, "You couldn't find your way home." During summer haying, however, you might tie it back on your neck. Sometimes it was laid flat on the head, and two corners tied behind at the neck, with two points laying loose on top of the knot at the neck.
It might happen that the women ran around bareheaded inside home walls, but seldom did you go without head covering to the village or at work. also inside you could bear a head covering at larger festivities such as a wedding.

My understanding was that a married woman never showed her bare head in public. I think my ideas come from the 19th century church tradition that a woman's hair was alluringly beautiful:) and out of respect for those around her, she should be modest about it.

I remember in 1946-47 when I went out to the milking with my Farmor in Malax that she had her head scarf in her apron pocket and put it on in the inside porch along with her jacket before venturing any further outdoors.

June Pelo
22-02-04, 00:36
In Ilmar Talve's book "Finnish Folk Culture" there is mention that married women always kept their heads covered, and in some instances, a girl covered her head after she was confirmed. "A married woman had to keep her head covered, as demanded in the Bible, originally as a sign of submission." In most of the older pictures in the book, the women had caps or kerchiefs on their heads. My maternal grandmother always wore a white cap of some sort. I have seen a picture of her wearing a white cap that looks like our shower caps, with elastic all around the edge.


22-02-04, 21:42
Originally posted by June Pelo
"A married woman had to keep her head covered, as demanded in the Bible, originally as a sign of submission."

You know which thought came to med when I read that? I haven't thougt about it even though I knew about that old custom.

I thought about the Muslim women who are demanded to cover their heads. Here in Europe it is a big issue. France has recently passed legislation forbidding religious symbols in schools.

Forbidden are e.g. head coverings, David's stars and crucifixes.

We aren't that different after all. Our timing is just another. We have abandoned the custom of head covering a few decades ago. They haven't.


June Pelo
22-02-04, 23:24
Here is a picture of my mother's mother wearing one of her white caps - taken in 1913, Eveleth, MN with her son William, his wife and daughter. The picture is faded and I can't make it any brighter. She came from the Pedersöre area and always wore a white cap.