With its characteristic square form and flat top covered in tassels, the mortarboard hat has come to represent academic success and graduation celebrations. Its inception may be attributed to universities in Britain, where it rose to prominence before spreading to other institutions across the globe.
The flat board that masons carry mortar on their arms is the tool from which the phrase "mortarboard" originates. The hat's origins can be traced back to the academic garb worn by clergy and intellectuals in medieval times. But it was in British institutions that the mortarboard evolved into what it is today, a staple of graduation attire.
The traditions of Oxford and Cambridge universities provide one of the first examples of the mortarboard being connected to academic success. The use of the mortarboard during graduation ceremonies became widely accepted thanks in large part to these institutions, which are renowned for their rich traditions and history. The hat evolved into a representation of intellectual achievement, marking the end of demanding academic endeavors.
The mortarboard's unique design has practical roots. It is simple to build and wear thanks to its square form and flat top. The tassel, which is frequently positioned in the middle of the hat, gives it a refined look. Over the ages, the mortarboard's design changed and its correlation with academic achievement became established.
The mortarboard has not only been used at graduation ceremonies in the past. It became a standard component of faculty members' academic attire. The hat functioned as a visual symbol of the academic community's dedication to learning and knowledge.
The early 20th century saw a rise in the use of mortarboards at graduation ceremonies, making it a significant historical event. During this period, the custom of shifting the tassel from side to side as a representation of accomplishment and change gained widespread. The mortarboard has become an integral part of the visual language of academic success.
The custom of donning a mortarboard became widespread when British educational methods permeated university systems across the globe. The usage of the mortarboard and other British academic traditions spread with the British Empire. The custom was accepted by the former colonies and territories, who incorporated it into their own academic regalia and graduation ceremonies.
For instance, the British academic model inspired the United States to adopt the mortarboard as a required component of graduation regalia in the early 20th century. The hat was embraced by American institutions as a representation of academic success and the quest for knowledge.
The mortarboard's journey from British universities to widespread acceptance illustrates how academic traditions continue to have an impact. Its meaning transcends national boundaries and symbolizes a common dedication to learning and academic success. Across cultural and geographic divides, the mortarboard has become a ubiquitous feature of graduation ceremonies across the globe, uniting disparate institutions through a shared visual language.