Phrygian Cap

The Phrygian [frij-ee-uhn]cap, also known as a Liberty Cap, is a soft conical cap whose top is pulled forward. It has been associated with freedom since Roman times and is commonly used in allegorical representations of the sort that appear on government seals and flags. The French patriotic symbol known as Marianne wears one, as do Papa Smurf and allegorical figures on U.S. seals and state flags. Seated Liberty on the dollar is holding the cap at the tip of a pole.

French stamp featuring Marianne

French stamp featuring Marianne

Liberty Cap worn during French Revolution

Liberty Cap worn during French Revolution

Papa Smurf

Papa Smurf

Seated Liberty with phrygian cap on pole

Seated Liberty with Phrygian cap on pole

American war publication

American war publication

More about the Phrygian Cap

7 comments to Phrygian Cap

  • Greg August-Thistle

    It makes sense that she is draped in ‘Old Glory’…seeing as how that is America’s War Flag. Too bad the book isn’t titled Peacetime Gardening. Then she would be draped in the Civil Flag, which is the Constitutional flag that falls under common law…

  • Garrison Lukens

    Excellent. This is one that has gotten by me over the years. Good work.

  • @Barbara
    The Phrygian cap/Liberty cap was a recognized symbol of liberty before the French revolution. The peasants may have worn knitted caps, but the red Phrygian cap was a deliberately adopted symbol.
    It may have been used by the American colonists before it was used for the French Revolution in 1789. Or, they may have picked it up from the French.

    The Liberty cap appears on the seal of the U.S. Senate. I guess it applies to the freedom of the senators to do as they please.

    Here’s a link to a lengthy article on the Phrygian cap:

    http://www.languedoc-france.info/06141204_libertycap.htm

  • I didn’t know about the Phrygian cap, but somehow in my subconscious mind I associated it with liberty. Also, again in my subconscious, I associate it with peasantry. Could I be thinking of caps that peasants wore during the uprisings in the French Revolution?

  • Pleased that you enjoyed it, gentlemen.

  • I tip my Phrygian cap to you Maeve. You certainly taught me something new that I probably should have known. But then the world is filled with knowledge I do not know exists and, for that reason, never will approach, much less tap.

  • Very interesting – can’t believe I didn’t know or observe this. Thanks, Dr. Maddox!

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