Russian Furt Hats (Ushanka)

An ushanka is a Russian fur hat with ear flaps that can be tied up to the top of the hat, or tied at the chin to protect the ears from cold. In the English-speaking world, it is referred to as a shapka, from the Russian language word for "hat". Ushanka literally translates as "ear-flaps hat".

Though ushankas are a distinctly Russian hat (indeed, the stereotypical Russian is seen to wear one) the wearing of fur caps of similar design is common throughout China, Korea, Eastern Europe, Canada and the former Soviet Union.

Ushankas are also seen in American cities during cold winter months, especially in cities that have a sizeable East European immigrant population. Ushankas are common part of the winter uniforms of the Russian police and military in temperate countries, such as Russia and Canada.

Ushankas are often made from sheepskin, rabbit or muskrat fur, though Artificial fur hats are also manufactured. Artificial fur has sometimes been referred to as "fish fur" since the material has no relation to any real fur. The simplest "fish fur" of ushankas was made of wool pile with cloth substrate and cloth top, with the exception of flaps, in which pile was exposed.

In 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union came the first wave of commercially imported Russian winter hats into the United States. It is extremely popular in northern states with harsh winters.

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