— skotthúfa —

Even before arriving in Iceland, the national costume has been a subject of curiosity for me. The long skirts, vests and jackets, all delicately embroidered with intricate metalwork. But atop every outfit is a particular hat. The skotthúfa is a hat that to me, symbolizes the classic Icelandic look. As my travels through Northern Iceland continue, I have become hyper-aware of these hats and have begun to notice their presence in a vast array of contexts. 

At the Prophecy Museum in Skagastrond, the gift shop offers a 19th-century style of the hat, which is knit. This version is untraditional in the sense that the artist has incorporated the Icelandic yoke patterns often found in the Lopapeysa Sweater. At this year’s knit fest, booths were selling kits and parts for creating the hat, which is also a testament to its modern popularity. 

A visit to the Textile Museum was naturally a treasure trove of skotthúfa’s. Pictured is my favourite costume from the exhibit on the national costume. This hat is one of the newer styles, fashioned from velvet and clipped to the hair with a comb, with a very long tassel hanging down. Further into the museum, in the exhibition on the life of Halldóra Bjarnadóttir is a portrait of the woman herself. In this painting, she wears the skotthúfa along with the traditional Icelandic costume, which is characterized by the large bow of fabric in the front. Both these examples are housed in a location that prides itself on the textile history of the area, so the abundance of skotthúfa is no surprise. However, as we get further from the museum, the hat remains a persistent character. 

At the Glambauer Turf House Museum, a museum dedicated to documenting the daily lives of farmers living in the turf houses during the 20th century, there is a room full of portraits. Most are men, but the two women in the room are both sporting the skotthúfa! 

Apart from these historical documents, this traditional Icelandic hat also appears in a variety of artistic renderings. At the Fairytale Garden at Oddeyragata 17 in Akureyri, folk artist Hreinn Halldórsson has created fairytale figures out of wood. Many of these are women wearing the Icelandic National costume, including the hat. Pictured are three separate sculptures. The Blonduos Hotel has a framed cross-stitch piece of a woman wearing the national costume, interestingly, the tassel of her hat is the only three-dimensional aspect of the work! 

Finally, I found it so intriguing that I made my own version! Tracking the presence of this hat throughout my Icelandic travels has been a fun way of interacting with the culture as well as learning more about the traditional costume.  🙂

– Rebekah Walker