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A wamus is a type of jacket worn in America. The term is applied to several different types of upper-body garment.

Early American history[edit]

One of the more consistent uses of wamus is to describe a fringed leather tunic that slips over the head.[1][2] For early American pioneer families in the Southern United States, the buckskin (later, cloth) wamus was widely worn by young and pre-teen boys in the late 18th and very early 19th century.[3] The wamus, if it opened down the front, was either laced shut or held closed with a belt, with dressier versions made from elk skin.[1] If made from cloth, the wamus was dyed blue and trimmed with yellow fringe.[1]

As worn by the Lakota people, the wamus was a ceremonial tunic which was coloured to represent the type of person the wearer was, as well as painted with mnemonic designs.[2] Traditionally, if a warrior had scalped his enemy, he was allowed to trim his wamus with human hair cut from the heads of mourning women in addition to the cut fringe.[2]

Later history[edit]

The wamus eventually came to describe a sleeved jacket or cardigan, typically with buttoned wristbands and a belt-like waistband, in which format, it was also sometimes called a roundabout.[4][5][6]

For Sunday best and other special occasions Amish men wear a jacket called a wamus, distinct from the 'mutze' traditionally worn for preaching.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c Wilcox, R. Turner (2004). Five centuries of American costume (Dover ed.). Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. pp. 42–43. ISBN 9780486436104. 
  2. ^ a b c Walker, James R. (1992). DeMallie, Raymond J., ed. Lakota society (1. Bison Book printing ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 102. ISBN 9780803297371. 
  3. ^ Dick, Everett (1993). The Dixie frontier : a social history of the Southern frontier from the first transmontane beginnings to the Civil War ([Repr. der Ausg.] New York, 1948. ed.). Norman [u.a.]: Univ. of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806123851. 
  4. ^ Picken, Mary Brooks (1999). A dictionary of costume and fashion : historic and modern. pp. 188–189. ISBN 9780486141602. 
  5. ^ Krohn, Katherine (2012). Calico dresses and buffalo robes : American West fashions from the 1840s to the 1890s. Minneapolis: Twenty-first Century Books. ISBN 9780761358909. 
  6. ^ "Roundabout". The American Tailor and Cutter. Jno. J. Mitchell Company. 23: 125. 1902. Roundabout — A name for a certain kind of jacket. (See Wamus.) 
  7. ^ Schwieder, Elmer; Schwieder, Dorothy (2009). A peculiar people Iowa's old order Amish : an expanded edition (1st University of Iowa Press ed.). Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 9781587298486. 
  8. ^ Hostetler, John A. (2005). "The Amish use of symbols (1964)". In Weaver-Zercher, David. Writing the Amish : the worlds of John A. Hostetler. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 9780271026862.