Design and symbolism
The cap is originally in the shape of a flat cylinder, having a red upper surface (called tepelak) not dissimilar to the Herzegovina and Lika caps. Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš wore it with a black rim (called derevija), and the definition given was as a sign of grief of occupied Kosovo. The Kosovo Myth was very popular in Montenegro. The enforcement of the cap upon the Montenegrin chieftains by Prince-Bishop Petar II was a mark of expression of then's dominating Serbian national identity.
The national telling recorded the most often version of the cap as following: the black wrapper was sign of grief for their once great Empire, the red the symbol of spilled blood at the Battle of Kosovo and the five small stripes on the top represent the remaining remains of the once greater Serbian realm, which became increasingly popular amongst the common folk during the reign of Prince Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš. Within the stripes is angled a six star, representing the last free part, Montenegro, shining upon the fallen and conquered.
During the Communist era in the second half of the 20th century instead of the Serb cross the Communist Red Star was implanted between the golden stripes, although it was not spread amongst the people and never accepted. Several years ago a new version appeared with a large modern (2004) Coat of Arms of Montenegro spread across the cap's red top, that is becoming increasingly popular as a sign of the Montenegrin nation's independence and sovereignty. A female version of the cap was introduced, so far worn almost exclusively by men.
Montenegrin cap with the Serbian cross
Montenegrin cap inscribed with Н.I.
(King Nicholas I of Montenegro)
These richly adorned caps were worn by King Nicholas I (right) and Queen Milena
- Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1837), Crna Gora i Crnogorci, Rastko
- Miodrag Vlahović (1953), "O najstarijoj kapi kod jugoslovena s obzirom na zbirku kapa etnografskog muzeja u Beogradu", Glasnik Etnografskog muzeja u Beogradu (Belgrade: Etnografski Muzej)
- Andrija Jovićević (1903), Crna Gora, Narodni život i običaji
- Zorica Radulović (1976), "Crnogorska muška kapa", Glasnik Cetinjskih muzeja IX (Cetinje)
- Jovan Vukmanović (1963), "Fizicki lik i izgled Njegosa", Glasnik Etnografskog muzeja na Cetinju (Cetinje)