HNW - capes vs. collars

Deborah Pulliam pulliam at
Fri Sep 11 07:01:05 PDT 1998

<<BTW, a sailor's cape may not be far off.  Sailors often tarred their hair
and wore a cape to keep the tar off of their uniform.  This has evolved
to the large squarish collar worn by sailors today and the nickname for
sailors  which is tar. This reference may be a later period than the one
we in the SCA study.>>

Slightly off-topic:

the tradition of seamen clubbing their hair and tarring it didn't begin
until the late 18c. In order to keep the tar from the braid off the monkey
jacket, the collar of a white shirt was extended (and squared off) and also
tarred itself. That's how sailor shirts came to have large square collars.
They're sometimes referred to as cape collars, but they weren't capes (as
in separate garments.)

I think the reference in Turnau is a typo; should be cap, not cape.


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