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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Curator raises Welsh hat mystery
Welsh costume, worn on a St David's Day on Anglesey
The hat is still part of Welsh costume worn on St David's Day
A major exhibition of traditional Welsh hats which form part of the country's national dress is being planned.

The curator of Ceredigion Museum, in Aberystwyth, said he was inspired to plan the show for 2008 because "very little" was known about them.

Michael Freeman is to examine about 100 kept in museums in Wales but also in England, where some were made.

The chimney-style hats form part of the Welsh national costume and were worn by women about 200 years ago.

Mr Freeman wants to hear from families in Wales and from abroad who still have their ancestors' traditional hats.

Ceredigion Museum owns 40, and its collection is second only to the 43 held by the National History Museum at St Fagans, Cardiff.

Michael Freeman with a Welsh hat
The hats are as much a part of Welsh culture as rugby and male voice choirs
Michael Freeman

Mr Freeman said he had appealed to readers of a Welsh American magazine for help.

"The hats are as much a part of Welsh culture as rugby and male voice choirs, but amazingly very little is known about them," he said.

"As far as I know, there has been no research carried out into the history of the hat before. It is unclear where they originated from.

"We don't know who invented the hat, if indeed it was invented."

Victoria and Albert

Mr Freeman said because little was known about the origins of the hat, there appeared to be a few myths surrounding them.

"It is assumed that every Welsh hat was made in Wales, but about 10% it seems were made outside Wales in places like London and even Paris," Mr Freeman said.

He is set to view Welsh hats at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and St Fagans.

A doll in Welsh national dress given to the young Princess Victoria in 1832, may feature in Mr Freeman's exhibition, he said.



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