While attending one of our Pompom social events recently (more about these here –https://mixtermaxter.com/mixter-maxter-pompom-social-product-launch/) one of the participants gave us a little bit of history about the humble Pom-pom. Knowing a little but not a lot about the origins of this seeming decorative item we went on to investigated and here is what we found –
The pom-pom hat’s origins can be traced back to Scandinavia from the age of the Vikings (800- 1066). The Viking god Freyr, is depicted wearing a hat or helmet with a pom-pom on it in a statuette that was discovered in 1904 on the farm Rällinge in Södermanland, Sweden. In an article written by archaeologist Neil Price included in the text Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes & Interactions, Price says, of the statuette, “The figure is wearing a helmet and a bracelet on each wrist, all of which are highly deliberate design inclusions and therefore not without meaning.”
The word “pom-pom” is said to have originated from the French word “pompon”* during the 18th century. At this time, the imposing Hungarian cavalry known as the Hussars wore what was called a shako, or a tall structured cap, as part of their uniforms. This impressive (but admittedly heavy) headgear caught the eye of regiments across Europe, including the soldiers of Napoleon’s army. Different regiments put their own trademark twist on it — some ornamented the caps with metal plating, others topped them with feathered plumage or a pom-pom. The colour and shape of the fluffy flourish signified regiment and rank and was a source of pride for a soldier.
Meanwhile, off the battlefield, the pom-pom held great significance as well. In South America, traditional garments of both men and women were being decorated with differently coloured pom-poms as a signal of their marital status. In Rome, clergymen wore square-peaked caps called birettas. The colour of the pom-pom that crowned each biretta signified the wearer’s order.
While pom-poms have always been part of traditional dress in Scotland — men wore a floppy beret called a Balmoral bonnet that was topped with a bright red pom-pom iconically known as a toorie — they enjoyed their biggest rise in popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Compared with tassels and jeweled trinkets, the pom-pom was an economically sound embellishment -– it could be scrapped together with leftover yarn. At the same time, tissue pom-poms were popping up at high school dances as easy DIY decorations and in cheerleaders’ hands as fun, festive substitutes for batons. People everywhere fell in love with the flare and playfulness of the pom-pom.
Today we still love the appeal of the Pom-pom and in our next blog we are going to show you how to get involved and make your own. In the meantime take a look at our current Pom-pom social products here – https://mixtermaxter.com/product-category/pompom/
*Pom-pom is derived from the French word pompon, which refers to a small decorative ball made of fabric or feathers. It also means an “ornamental round tuft” and originally refers to its use on a hat, or an “ornamental tuft; tuft-like flower head
Images from –