So, this guy looks like a clan member....who came first?

I was struck by this photo today. It says that this guy in the purple, KKK-looking garb is a “penitent of the Las Cigerreras brotherhood” in Seville.

I’m just curious if the origins of the two costume traditions (KKK and Las Cigerreras). Is the pointy headed robe something that dates back a long way?

Englighten me please…

The KKK is the Klan (with a K). Clan refers to a grouping of families. For example, my family is part of the MacGregor clan of Scotland.

The capirote used in the Semana Santa (“Holy Week”) celebrations in Seville predate the KKK by centuries.

The native Spaniards with whom I’ve discussed the “cultural theft” were not even aware of a connection to the KKK. Why should it be their problem if a bunch of racists in the US steal their costume ideas?

For the Sevillanos, tall pointy hats = Holy Week in Seville. They are no more guilty of outrageous symbolism than are the Indians from whom the Swastika was purloined.

[I hope to get a more authoritative cite before long. Trust me, though, there’s no question which came first, by a long way.]

What Antonius Block said. I was in Sevilla during Holy Week last week and saw the festive pointy-headed processions in all colors all around the center of town.

By the way, the pointy-head costume is not the only idea that made it across the ocean to the USA. I give you the town of El Rocio, near Sevilla. It looks like a cheap imitation from a typical town from a Spaghetti western, with its unpaved, wide sandy roads and plaza’s, and a rail in front of every house to fasten your horses’ bridle.
Only it isn’t a cheap imitation of a western Frontier town. It’s the honest to god original. :cool: And the reason it is shaped that way, not at all lik eother Spanish towns fron the region, is because of the yearly pelgrimage for which it is famous.

Ooh, El Rocio! I accidentally caught the tail end of the pilgrimage a few years ago, while traveling from southern Portugal through Huelva to Seville on the Tuesday after El Rocio, and seeing the caravans coming back from the marshes. I’d really like to make it for the festival one day!

I seem to recall reading about the El Rocio festival in James Michener’s Iberia: whatever one might think of him as a novelist, that particular book (although clearly a product of its time, given how much the country has changed in the last few decades) is an excellent non-fictional introduction to the Spanish landscape and character. He describes the cofradias (the Catholic brotherhoods in Seville who use the pointy-headed robes during Holy Week) in great detail, and addresses the issue of the KKK’s usage of the imagery.

Since AFAIK the US doesn’t really have a tradition of religious pilgrimages, the closest thing to El Rocio that I can think of (albeit secular) is Burning Man.

Thankfully, the OP has been factually answered, so I can make this frivolous, non PC observation…

That darling outfit would look fabulous at the local Klan rally.
Yeah, I’ve been watching Dave Chapelle’s show.

With all the different cultures and religions that made it to the New World, why are there not more pilgrimages? Is it because of a lack of nearby holy places? Or is it simply a cultural thing, the Catholics and Muslims here being too American (couldn’t say Westernised, for obvious reasons) ? Aren’t there pilgrimages (of a sort) in South and Central America? If this is too much of a hijack, I’ll open a new thread.

Legend has it the original Klan (whose costumes were somewhat different – started dressing up like ghosts to scare the blacks, assumed to be superstitious; a Klansman would claim to be the ghost of a Confederate soldier killed in battle.

I don’t know why the second Klan founded in 1915 decided to use a standardized costume similar to that of penitents in Spanish religious processions.

Many of Cecil’s comments in this column on the origins of KKK cross-burning apply equally well to costuming. The more elaborate costumes represent an attempt by the second Klan to recapture the romance of Old Scotland, as filterered through Scott, Dixon, Griffiths, and Simmons.

(Not being an expert on European costuming, I can only assume Scots at some point wore costumes similar to those in modern Spain; the anti-Catholic founders of the second Klan would have been more likely to look to Protestant Scotland than Catholic Spain for inspiration.)

The original Reconstruction-era Klan wore disguises for practical reasons; they were commiting serious crimes and didn’t want to go to jail.

Old Klan pictures and the depictions in the silent movie Birth of a Nation frequently don’t look lik the classic “white conical hoods” – sometimes the masks have rigid spires on top, or look like double-topped pillow cases. I suspect they didn’t have standardized garb until much later.

Actual still from film:

So, did the Spaniards steal the uniform from Scotland, or vice versa?

I would say it’s a cultural thing. Pilgrimages are quite frequent in Catholic countries, not only in South and Central America, but in Mexico as well. The USA was founded by a mostly Protestant culture, which tended to frown on things that smacked of papistry.

I live in a border state, and there are a couple of pilgrimage sites near my hometown. I would estimate that there is at least one per county in the states that used to be part of Mexico.

Apart from Freddy the Pig’s conjecture,

I’ve never come across any reference to Klan-style pointy hoods in Scotland (and, being of Scots descent on my father’s side, I have been exposed to a great deal of Scottish history and culture). Unless someone comes up with a cite, I think we should take Freddy’s comment as being purely speculative. No harm intended or done. :slight_smile:

Remember, we’re not dealing with everyday clothes, but clothes worn in Catholic religious processions. And Scotland turned Presbyterian more than 200 years before the first Klan was founded.

I see that Wikipedia also has a whole page devoted to this issue, including mention of Spain and speculation about Scotland. No resolution, though.

I’ll take antonius’s word for it that nobody wears anything close to this in Scotland. The costume seems to have evolved more gradually than the burning cross, so I guess it was just a mishmash of things the founders thought were cool, like crusaders, executioners, and ghosts.

How about this Anti-Renter from 1840’s New York?


Antonius Block is right: Lay confraternities within the Catholic Church have been using similar hoods and robes for centuries. The Gonfalone confraternity in Rome, who wear white robes with a red and white cross on the shoulders, was founded in 1264. The Misericordia confraternity, who wear black (as seen in this Piero della Francesca altarpiece), date back to the mid-15th century. According to Seville’s Semana Santa website, the first penitent confraternities in Spain emerged at the end of the 15th or 16th century (the link for “cofradias” leads to the weekly schedule for all the various confraternities–dozens of them in Seville alone). I’m not familiar with any Scottish confraternities that ever wore similar robes; as BrainGlutton pointed out, by the end of the 16th century, the Presbyterian Church, following John Knox’s teachings, was very much in the ascendancy. If we’re looking for who started the “pointed hood 'n robe” style, I’d have to say the Italians came first way back in the 13th century, then the Spanish around the 15th century, and so forth and so on.

I’ve always thought it ironic how the KKK, a virulently anti-Catholic organization, would adopt hoods and robes that are so strikingly similar to Catholic confraternities. However, all of these organizations share one thing in common: the desire for anonymity. In the case of the KKK, of course, the hoods concealed the wearer’s identity so as to avoid identification and possible prosecution. For confraternities, anonymity is also important, although for more noble reasons: since the main activity of these organizations is charitable work, hiding your identity ensures that you are giving charity selflessly, purely for the sake of helping the poor–not for self-aggrandisement.

I would love one day to visit Seville during Holy Week. What a beautiful city.