The Šibenik cap is the most widely known version of the traditional Croatian headgear.
Today, it is usually orange, with two rows of black embroidered detail, while earlier versions of the cap were red with one row of embroidered black circles, and not two rows as we see today. Historically, the red cap is associated with the Iapod headwear, though these were only worn by the women. One of the heads in the frieze of the Šibenik cathedral wears a similar cap, created in the period prior to the Juraj Dalmatinac phase of construction in about 1440, while Father Krsto Stošić found records of this cap in the documents from 1500.
The Šibenik red and orange caps owe their fame to a series of socio-political circumstances. In the 1880s, a power struggle was ongoing in Šibenik and the rest of Dalmatia between the narodnjaci (folk, with the folk cap as a symbol) and the autonomaši (independents, with the gentleman’s hat as a symbol). In the 1920s, this folk cap became a symbol of Slavism during the period when Italy annexed Zadar. Its popularity was further promoted by the activities of the company called Industrija narodnog veziva (Folk embroidery industry), established by the Matavulj family in Šibenik in 1880. This company produced these folk hats, parts of the folk costume, traditional cakes and liqueurs.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the production of the cap was made simpler thanks to the sewing machine, and it soon became taller and more similar to the Drniš cap, which was larger than the Šibenik cap, with a flat top and different details in the embroidery. A similar cap was also worn in Knin until the mid-19th century. In that sense, today’s Šibenik cap lies somewhere between the original Šibenik and Drniš caps.