A Qeleshe, also commonly called Plis, is a traditional brimless, felt cap, which is worn by Albanian men throughout Albania, in Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and in the Arbëresh villages in Italy. It is thought to be descending from the Illyrian cap. The Qeleshe is a distinctively Albanian type of headgear.
The cloth is thought to originate from the Illyrian cap, although there is no archeological or physical evidence to support this claim. It resembles the older Greek Pileus or pilos (Greek: πῖλος, felt), which was a brimless version of the older petasos (Greek sun hat). The Pileus worn from as early on as 1500 BC and can be seen on statues such as that of Odysseus (Oddyseus), King of Ithaca who fought in the Trojan War, where as the culture that is now called Illyrian is placed only at around 1000 BC. The name Qeleshe comes from the Albanian word for wool (Albanian: lesh).
The shape of the cap changes with the region: In northern Albania, the cone is shorter whereas in southern Albania it is usually taller, especially in the Gjirokastër and Vlorë regions, with the exception of the Myzeqe low plains region, where the cap is shorter like in Northern Albania and has some plies. In some areas of southern Albania a small protrusion comes out of the cap. The cap is made from one single piece of woolen felt, usually white, that is molded to the shape of the head.
In northern Albania, the shape resembles an egg shell cut in half. In southern Albania, the shape is that of a cone with the top cut. Sometimes the qeleshe is worn along with a bandana tied around the head.
- Stipčević, Aleksandar (1977). The Illyrians: History and Culture. History and Culture Series. Noyes Press. p. 89. ISBN 0815550529. "It is generally agreed, and rightly so, that the modern Albanian cap originates directly from the similar cap worn by the Illyrians."
- Recherches albanologiques: Folklore et ethnologie. Instituti Albanologijik i Prishtinës. 1982. p. 52. Retrieved 14 April 2013. "Ne kuadrin e veshjeve me përkime ilire, të dokumentuara gjer më tani hyjnë tirqit, plisi, qeleshja e bardhë gjysmësferike, goxhufi-gëzofi etj"
- Nagel (1990). Albania. Nagel Publishers. p. 62. ISBN 978-2-8263-0827-0. Retrieved 14 April 2013. "The qeleshe, the white felt cap worn by men, was a distinctively Albanian type of headgear both within the country and beyond its frontiers" and then "Among the mountain people of the north it was hemispherical in form; at Kukés in the form of a truncated cone"
- πῖλος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon,on Perseus
- Wilkes 1995, p. 39.
- Gillian Gloyer (2012). Bradt Albania. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-84162-387-0. Retrieved 14 April 2013. "The best place in Albania to shop for souvenirs is Kruja, where all the shops are close together in the bazaar. There are traditional felt-makers, who produce slippers and the felt caps called qeleshe"
- Vaqarri, Sabina (2010). "TRADICIONALITET DHE RISI NE DASMËN TIRANASE". Albanological Research - Folklore and Ethnology Series (40): 313–322.