Sunday, April 30, 2017

Graduation Cap

The mortarboard is generally believed by scholars[who?] to have developed from the biretta, a similar-looking hat worn by Roman Catholic clergy. The biretta itself may have been a development of the Roman pileus quadratus, a type of skullcap with superposed square and tump (meaning small mound). A reinvention of this type of cap is known as the Bishop Andrewes cap.[7]:22–23 The Italian biretta is a word derived from berretto, which is derived itself from the Latin birrus and the Greek pyrros, both meaning "red." The cone-shaped red (seldom in black) biretta, related to the ancient Etruscan tutulus and the Roman pileus, was used in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to identify humanists, students, artists, and learned and blooming youth in general. The shape and the colour conveyed meaning: Red was considered for a long time the royal power, whether because it was difficult to afford vestments of such solid and brilliant dye or because the high symbolic meaning of blood and life, thus the power over life and death.

It is not casual that the capo (captain) headwear is found with such frequency in Renaissance paintings as the highly famous one by Piero della Francesca of Federico da Montefeltro with his red cap. Campano wrote about these hats in his Life of Niccolò Fortebraccio, "he used to wear a red and high hat, the higher from the head the wider it became." Federico and Niccolò were Condottieri. The same cap is seen on Bartolomeo Colleoni, commander of the Venetian Armies in 1454, on the Duke Ludovico III Gonzaga and on John Hawkwood in his equestrian monument by Paolo Uccello. This cap as worn by the leading Italian nobles at the end of the fifteenth century became a symbol of their military and civil powers over Italian cities at a time when the whole of Europe was going to be deeply transformed by Italian influences.

It was originally reserved for holders of master's degrees (the highest qualification in mediæval academia) but was later adopted by bachelors and undergraduates. In the 16th and 17th centuries corner-cap ("catercap" in the Marprelate tracts) was the term used (OED).

Origins of the most commonly found mortarboard in the United States can be traced to a patent that was filed by an inventor Edward O'Reilly and Catholic priest Joseph Durham who filed their patent in 1950. Their invention and subsequent patent was the result of his idea to incorporate a fiberglass stiffener into the mortarboard thus making it more sturdy. Such mortarboards are very commonplace throughout the world today.[8]


Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio features a giant steel mortarboard suspended over the street as a landmark.
Doctorate holders of some universities wear the mortarboard, although the round Tudor bonnet is more common in Britain. The 4, 6, or 8 cornered "tam" is gaining popularity in the US, and in general a soft square tam has some acceptance for women as a substitute for the hard 'square'.

In the US, the mortarboard is also worn by high school pupils during the presentation of their diplomas.


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Graduation tassel A three-colour graduation tassel in burgundy, gold and white. The charm reveals it is from a 1987 ceremony. This particular tassel came from Piner High School in Santa Rosa, California.
In US graduation ceremonies, the side on which the tassel hangs can be important. Sometimes it is consistent among all students throughout the ceremony, in other cases it differs based on level of study with undergraduate students wearing the tassel on the right, and graduate student wearing them on the left. In some ceremonies, the student wears the tassel on one side until reception of the diploma; then it is switched to the other.

At the secondary school level, the tassel is usually either the school's primary colour or a mix of the school's colours with as many as three colors in a tassel. Sometimes a tassel of a distinctive colour, such as gold, is worn by those graduating with Latin Honours (i.e. cum laude) or on the "honour roll".

Universities in the United States might use tassels in black or the school's colors, usually for higher degrees.

For bachelor's degrees the tassel may be colored differently from the traditional black or school colors to represent the field (or one as closely related as possible) in which the wearer obtained his or her education. In 1896 most colleges and universities in the United States adopted a uniform code governing academic dress. The tassel may be adorned with a charm in the shape of the digits of the year.

However, strictly speaking, the American Council on Education (ACE) code states that "The tassel should be black or the colour appropriate to the subject," and only makes an exception for the gold tassel. The gold metallic tassel is reserved for those entitled to wear the doctoral gown, as is the use of velvet for headwear. Only one tassel is worn at a time.