Madeiran Carapuça – a unique hat

Madeiran Carapuça – a unique hat

Tradional Dress on Madeira

Madeira is much more than the pearl of the Atlantic with its rugged coast, lush flowers and vegetation.  Madeira is also home to some of Portugal’s most unique traditional attires such as the Madeiran Carapuça.

Madeiran traditional costumes are very colorful.  The women wear a colorful full skirt made of vertical red striped wool with yellow, green, blue, white and black.  They tuck a white blouse with puffed sleeves. These can be either short of long.  On top ladies wear a front-lacing corset in colors matching the skirt.  Some depending on the season even wear a dark wool cloak thrown over one or both shoulders.

Carapuça on Madeira Island

Carapuça – the most remarkable adornment of the Madeira traditional costume

The Madeiran carapuça is a hat.  It is a brimless wool cap adorned by both men and women.  The carapuço fits closely to the head and has a long pigtail that swings from the center of the cap. It has the shape of an inverted funnel. The hat is made of black, dark blue or red wool.   

As compared to other hats, the carapuço does not serve as a protection against wind, rain or sun.  It plays the role of a fashionable accessory.

The origin of the Carapuça

The origin of the carapuça is not well-known.  Some give it Greek roots while others see an oriental influence.  However, some sources date the carapuça back to the time of the inquisition.   During inquisition, the condemned were forced to wear ridiculous costumes when attending their trials.  That ridiculous costume consisted of a tunic shaped like a poncho and a long pointed hat or cap.  This is how the Portuguese saying: “vestir a carapuça” or wearing the cap originated.  It means as much as taking the blame. (Source)

Furthermore, it was believed that young unmarried ladies decorated their carapuça with the wealth of their family in gold jewelry and earrings in order to attract richer potential husbands.


Today, these carapuças are used by all folkloric groups.  So you will most certainly see them during you visit to Madeira.  It is also a very popular tourist souvenir. However, the colors and material are very different for tourists and for locals folkloric groups.

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