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The weird Jewish hats of Medieval art: Antisemitic trope, or fashion statement?

Ever flipped through your history book and wondered “Why are all the Jews wearing these funny hats?”

You find it all over Christian art from stained glass windows to manuscripts, the Judenhat (“Jewish hat”) can be traced back to medieval Europe.

You can even find it in the Bird’s Head Haggadah and some other Jewish books of the time! Originally a marker of eastern learning, antiquity and authority, and even fashionable with 12th century aristocracy, things took a dark turn as Jews were depicted wearing the hat while killing Jesus. Paired with a “Jewish nose”, the hat can even sometimes still be seen in Antisemitic depictions of Jews today.

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