Azorean Capotes

Azorean capotes: they exist. Here, we can see one looming over Chelsea at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Allow me to expand.


The strange capote-e-capelo. A large cape that covered a woman’s figure, allowing only a glimpse of her face, the origin of the capote-e-capelo is controversial, Some say that it came from Flanders and others state that it is an adaptation of mantles and cowls that were fashionable in Portugal in the 17th and 18th centuries. In any case, for centuries the capote-e-capelo was a typically Azorean woman’s garment. Varying from island to island in the cut of the cape and the arrangement of the cowl, which in Faial had the extravagant shape of a wedge resting on the shoulders and which jutted out in front for over a palm, the common characteristic of the capote-e-capelo was that it was made of a strong, heavy electric-blue cloth that lasted for generations and was handed down from mothers to daughters. The women of the Azores stopped wearing the capote-e-capelo about 1930-40.

6 thoughts on “Azorean Capotes

  1. I studied Costume History and never heard of these ! They are utterly brilliant, amazing, fascinating and … pretty scary !!!
    Thank you so much for sharing such a unique find !
    x x x

  2. Hans Gerald Hoedl says:

    there is a description of the Azorean capote in chapter VI of Mark Twain’s “The innocents Abroad”; i have just read it and started searching the internet for a picture; thx for posting these here

    • Hans Gerald Hoedl says:

      sorry, it is in chapter V

      • Hans Gerald Hoedl says:

        „Here and there in the doorways we saw women with fashionable Portuguese hoods on. This hood is of thick blue cloth, attached to a cloak of the same stuff, and is a marvel of ugliness. It stands up high, and spreads abroad, and is unfathomably deep. It fits like a circus tent, and a woman‘s head is hidden away in it like the man’s who prompts the singers from his tin shed in the stage of an opera [….] a woman can’t go within eight points of the wind with one of them on; she has to go before the wind or not at all.“ (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, Chapter V).

      • With Care says:

        Wow. I’ve seen some capotes before in person and yes, that is a very *very* accurate description! They are unearthly looking. Glad to be able to help you with some photos.

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