What does shapka-ushanka mean?

russian shapka ushanka

Russian шапка -ушанка - Hat with fur earflaps

To be honest, I don't have this hat. Moreover, I never had it before. I think that this type of hat is not  so comfortable - ears are open and are getting freeze during the winter, so what is the purpose of such hat? 

It’s very interesting how this hat became one of the most popular symbol of Russia, I don't really know why, because nowadays I would not say that this type of hat is quite popular.  

Anyway,  it is interesting to know the history of this strange hat and how it became popular in Russia.


The word «ушанка»  (ushanka)  derives from «уши» (ears) - this is a Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or fastened at the chin to protect the ears, jaw and lower chin from the cold.

The  modern шапка-ушанка  was called before шапка- колчаковка (kolchakovka) and it was named after Aleksandr Kolchak, the commander of Russian Navy. 

It was invented  in the beginning of the 20th century during the Russian Civil War. It was similar to the ushanka but had an extra eye-flap. In Kolchak troops it became so popular that replaced all the other hats of Russian army.  In 1919 it became popular in Petersburg and a little bit later in the other parts of Russia. 

Soon in the world shapka-ushanka became a symbol of Soviet Union and then the symbol of Russia. Nowadays you can find it in any Russian souvenir store usually with red Soviet star in front of it.


It is interesting to know that the ushanka has become a part of the winter uniform for military and police forces in Canada, the United States, it remained a part of the German police uniform in winter and other Western countries with a cold winter. Gray (military, American police), green (for camouflage) and blue (police, United States Post Office, navy) versions are in current usage. In 2013, however, the Russian army announced that the ushanka was being replaced by new headgear.

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