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TOPIC: History of The Mortarboard

History of The Mortarboard 22 May 2016 20:21 #9890

  • brianne.a
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Now that it's graduation season and everyone has their caps and gowns photos flooding social media, you wonder; what's the history behind the square cap? I just recently found out that it's not just called a cap, but it's actually called a mortarboard. The name is originated from the idea that the hat looks like the board that is used by bricklayers to hold the mortar known as the “hawk”. Graduation can be seen as a groundwork built on knowledge through hard work and years of school, so the symbolism of the mortarboard is perfectly suited. The Mortarboard origin is also said to have religious roots as it was modeled after a hat worn by Roman Catholic Clergy known as the Biretta. This hat was best known as the skullcap during the 1500’s or the Roman pileus quadratus, later to be denoted as the Bishop Andrewes cap. Only those with advanced degrees wore the mortarboard hat which today is frequently worn as part of the graduation regalia from preschool to advanced higher education. earing graduation regalia began in the 12th century when small universities in Europe were required to validate degrees and keep a record of the names of student/scholars who were enrolled to study at the universities. This was the official beginning of student progress reports better known as transcripts in today’s institutions of higher learning. The tassel is also an important signifier of the mortarboard as it can denote the numerous degree concentrations by color in higher education. Most tassels are simply black with a charm of the year of graduation as commonly seen at a high school graduation ceremony, or they are the color of the degree granting higher educational institution. Even there is a ceremony guide which includes hat etiquette, tassel position, and color designation for the tassels. After just learning that the cap is also a mortarboard, I wonder too how many people new this.
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