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The qeleshe , plis, qylaf or kësul , pi lisi (prej leshi) in Albanian meaning ‘woolen’, is a white brimless felt cap traditionally worn by Albanians. It has spread throughout Albanian-inhabited territories and is today part of the traditional costume of the Albanians. The height of the cap varies from region to region.

history of Qeleshe

The origin of the Albanian plis and qeleshe descend from the ancient Illyrian culture. Similar hats appear with similar silhouettes as the Illyrian version. An early depiction of the Plis can be seen on Johann Theodor de Bry depiction of Moisi Golemi from 1596, however, earlier Italian and documents exist depicting Albanians wearing the plis from earlier centuries. It is also argued by Nopcsa that it may have been colored red. During the 17-19 centuries, the appearances description and appearance steadily multiplied, depicting it as a common Albanian headdress as it became more widespread and easily accessible to wear. The white version became the most popular one and was finally declared a specific Albanian national costume during the Albanian Renaissance.

In the 18-19 century, the plis became popularly depicted in paintings depicting Arnaut, painters like Jean-Léon Gérôme, Charles Bargue, and Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier would paint Albanian subjects of the Osman Empire with the plis, as a diverse presentation of the orient. It would be casually depicted in a formal setting, such as in The Albanian Marriage by Jean Pierre Louis Laurent Hoüel in 1785, where the priest is depicted with a plis.

During the 19-20 centuries, Albanologists started taking photographs of Albanian national attires, many of which would include the Plis. Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás is photographed multiple times wearing the headdress. It then became a popular headdress for Albanian soldiers to wear during the battle for independence, Shota Galica, Isa Boletini, and Azem Galica are depicted wearing the plis while fighting Italian, Turkish, Greek, Serbian, and Montenegrin invaders during the Partition of Albania.

Source of the article: Qeleshe


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