Goldhaube: In Search of the Golden Caul-Hat-Haarhauben Thingee

German women of high rank in the 16th century were fond of wearing what we call a goldhaube, or Haarhauben, beneath their hats or even without hats. I’ve seen countless portraits depicting goldhaube, and as best I can figure, it’s a gold-decorated caul — nothing more than a fancy golden bag for your hair. I’ve seen them solid, richly embroidered and pearled coifs and as some sort of netting reminiscent of a snood. The material, or ground, often appears to be an goldish-orangish-reddish color — my best guess is that it’s silk. The common elements are the general shape and the use of gold. Here are some portaits by Lucas Cranach — click each for a larger image.









Cauls are easy to make — they are nothing more than circles or ovals gathered into a headband. I’ve made half a dozen so far, with increasing success at how they look on MY head (I prefer to create them less gathered on the top of the caul and more gathered at the nap of the neck). The smallest diameter for the circle is about 12″ — I also go a little larger for a baggier, fuller look. The headband should be the circumference of your head measured from the top of the skull to the nape of your neck, because a caul sits on the back of your head rather than on the crown. Click here for a step-by-step guide to making a simple caul.

I have already made what one might call a goldhaube (click here for the documentation on it), but it was more in an English style than German, with white linen as the ground and floral blackwork as the main decorative element. So I’d like to create one out of gold silk, embroidered with gold thread, and beaded with pearls. Based on the above portaits, a simple lattice over the silk ground would accomplish my goal. And I’d definitely want a larger diameter circle than your usual caul, as it appears these goldhaube covered more of the head. Sounds like a fun project! Now I just need to source the silk and pearls.

Update: The more I think about it, the more I suspect that goldhaube were made from silk damask. I’ve seen several silk damask with geometric patterns, and, with some pearls beaded onto them, they would look strikingly like the goldhaube in the paintings. Damask has the right dimensional look that I see in the goldhaube.

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9 Responses to Goldhaube: In Search of the Golden Caul-Hat-Haarhauben Thingee

  1. Anne says:

    I’m trying to use mental x-ray vision and see what the hairstyle is under those cauls! Most of them seem to have two definite ‘lumps’ just behind the ear area and I’m wondering what produces that! Perhaps hair gathered into brains in that area and then crossed over the top of the head and wrapped?

  2. HendrikG says:

    Allegedly, there is one Haube still in existence in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg. But that is supposed to be locked away quite well. One of the projects to work on in the future.

    • Genoveva von Lubeck says:

      Oh REALLY? I wonder if they would tell me what the haube was made out of if I wrote them a polite letter? Someone very knowledgeable once told me to try this, that you never know, it can’t hurt, and the museum just might tell you! Thank you for the tip. 🙂

      • HendrikG says:

        Usualy museums are quite open to that approach if you can make the impression that you ask out of genuine and worthwhile scientific interest. Best of luck and share the information. 🙂

  3. Heike Kubasch says:

    I understand the basics of making the caul. I just completed a set of false braids to go under one. What is frustrating me is getting the close fit around the head while accommodating the bulk of the braids. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Genoveva von Lubeck says:

      Yes, what I do is make the band on the bias of the fabric (so it has a little stretch), then I make the band a little tighter than my head with my braids in. Works great for me! Nice and snug.

  4. Georgia says:

    Are there any of these about in silver, in portraits?

    I’ve been inspired by an A&S challenge to make a Saxony gown, and am going to make one without brustfleck but with a haube – though I’d really really like to go with black and silver, because that’s what I already have in my stash!

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