One of the most prominent pieces of the marching band uniform is the shako hat. It is one of the forms of headgear that a marching band member may wear as part of the overall uniform. The shako hats have a history of their own and have deep historic origins. Basically the name ‘shako’ originates from the Hungarian language, in which it means ‘peaked cap.’ Back in the 18th century the Hungarian hussar wore this hat as part of the overall uniform.

During the 1800s this headdress was very popular among armies and it was worn by different armies of Eastern Europe and even by the American army during the 1800s. It was made out of heavy leather and felt, and was designed to provide protection to the skull of the soldier wearing it. Furthermore the visor of the shako hat is designed to protect the eyes of the soldiers and served to provide shade to them.

Regardless of these considerations, there was little protection that the shako could provide the soldiers with, as it was only able to cover the skull partially and it proved to be ineffective against the enemy’s cavalry. This is why the popularity of the shako hat was short lived and other more effective headgears were developed with time.

However, this kind of hat is still very popular and is worn as part of marching band uniforms. There are different kinds of shako hats, some of which have are mentioned as follows:

  • There was the ‘stovepipe’ shako, which was cylindrical in shape and stood tall decorated with a brass badge right at the front of the hat.
  • Then there is the ‘Belgic’ shako which was introduced by the Portuguese marines and it was slightly different in shape from other categories of the shako. This kind of shako was made from black felt and it had a slightly raised front.
  • The Imperial Russian army introduced a design of the shako hat in 1812 which was called Kiwa and it was again made with certain distinguishing features in order to differentiate it from the other kinds of shako designs. These shako hats are easily distinguishable from their concave or slightly dished tops.
  • Next in line is the ‘bell top’ design which was much popular in the 1820s and in the 1830s. This form of shako hats was much bigger in size and was elaborately designed. This hat was more commonly used for parades rather than on battlefields because there were very few wars in Europe at that time.
  • There are many other variations that were introduced as additions to the shako hats and we are well-equipped to provide you with a design of your choice to match your marching band uniform.