A new priest hat to covet

I could kick myself for not getting a Spanish biretta when I was in Madrid.  Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.   I guess I’ll have to go back.

That said, I spotted a new priest hat to covet.

Here is an image of a newly ordained priest in China.

chinese priest

I want one.

According to that über-source for all things ecclesio-haberdashical, Philippi, this is a ?? – jijin.  A jijin is a “sacrifice or ‘festival” towel, wrap or head cover) is a square hat, worn by Catholic priests and missionaries in China during the late Ming (ca. 1615) and the Quing Dynasty (1644-1911).”  “Jijin were most commonly seen during the 19th and very early 20th century. By the 1920’s it began to disappear as Western clerical garb became common. End of the 19th century the Holy See asked the clergy not to relaunch the jijin again where it was abolished.”


Look, we are living in an age when things that were not actually abolished but claimed to be abolished have been revived (e.g., the TLM, ad orientem worship).  We are also living in a time when certain things have been abolished but they are still been perpetrated (e.g., use of glass vessels, etc.).

I say, FIGHT BACK!   We need, along side the standard Roman biretta (with or without pom), Spanish birettas with the great pointy horns and this Jijin thing!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z,

    Some Chinese tailors are so good at their craft, that if you showed them the jijin from a photo, I’m sure they could make one for you. I would like to see a Fr. Z photo, wearing the jijin. On the other hand, some traditional Catholics might see you in one, and accuse you of being a Shriner, and a closet Mason. LOL

  2. John UK says:

    Not sure if you know of this site, Father?
    It’s not been updated for ages, but has a fascinating collection of picures of ecclesiastical headgear, including this
    which might appeal to some?? :)

    Kind regards.

  3. CharlesG says:

    Very interesting indeed. Just a pedantic note: it’s the “Qing” dynasty, aka the Manchu dynasty, not “Quing” — probably a spell checker issue.

  4. Matthew Gaul says:


    Organic (that is, real) tradition is messy. Make everyone the world over uniform, and tradition dies.

  5. Lavrans says:

    Jinjins for seminarians!

  6. Father K says:

    Some things, no matter how cute belong to another place and another era. Where could it be worn these days, Chinatown?

    [First, so what? Second…]

  7. pseudomodo says:

    Hmmmmm. Those haircuts!

    Restore the Chinese Tonsure! :-)

    The altar and vestments are superb by the way. If I could have a chapel in my house I would want one if those.

  8. Ann Malley says:

    @Fr. K

    “Some things, no matter how cute belong to another place and another era. Where could it be worn these days, Chinatown?”

    This is true about many things, like much of what passes today for vestments. The “artwork” is better suited to a pre-schooler’s finger painting take-home or bad 70’s era hippie with-it gear. The minimalist feel of a Scandinavian furniture store is also not desirable, but obviously dated.

    As for where this particular headgear could be worn, I’d suggest in a Catholic community where the faithful are encouraged to understand the truth about what artistry is meant to be. That is uplifting and edifying. In a word, beautiful. This includes vestments and their assorted peripherals.

    The embossed IHS and cross on the two samples shown are highly decorative and evoke that which is majestic – the Catholic Faith.

    Better the above example than the “mono-chromatic” $15Million example of modern art hanging in San Francisco. Translation: A blank canvas. Or the ceramic paisley toilet complete with offerings that is displayed at the Seattle Museum. Then we have the Asian man in the pink tightie-whities.

  9. robtbrown says:

    Father K says:

    Some things, no matter how cute belong to another place and another era.

    That comment is often said about Catholic doctrine.

  10. Hidden One says:

    Is there anyone who can offer a Chinese Catholic perspective on the potential pastoral use of the jijin?

    Was it traditionally worn over a cassock? What style? What was worn with it?

  11. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Optime Pater,

    The jijin was worn because in many cultures of the Far East, it was considered a sign of humiliation and scorn for a man to appear in public without a hat. [Yes.]The jijin was not taken off when the priest went to the altar. [It’s a great hat!]

    If you look at these wonderful Korean pictures of the life of Christ, you will see that he appears with a hat up until the Last Supper. For the events of His Passion (trial, scourging etc.), He is bareheaded, and then is seen emerging from the Tomb with His hat back on.

    [Great images! Thanks for that link. I want a jijin.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. Father K says:


    I did not say Catholic doctrine is ‘cute.’ If you cannot distinguish between Catholic doctrine and some kind of headgear then what can I possibly say?

    Fr Z,
    ‘That said, I spotted a new priest hat to covet.

    ‘Here is an image of a newly ordained priest in China.’ He was ordained, no doubt, newly then, many, many years ago. Are you trying to make a collection of erstwhile clerical headgear, no matter their provenance? If so, definitely weird. [What is definitely weird is entering someone’s living room, say the living room of a rectory or its cyber-equivalent a priest’s blog, and then insulting him.]

  13. JARay says:

    I think that you should have a jijin! Unfortunately I do not have one to give you.

  14. Nicolaus says:

    @Hidden One
    A Chinese here. I do see old pictures of priests wearing Ji-Jin, from what I can tell, it used to serve as a combination of Birreta, zucchetto, and maybe galero, both in and outside Mass. There were some other tiny liturgical variations such as segregated sitting of men and women inside the church in the old times. If I am to be a priest I am willing to pick up the lower case “t” traditions, including Ji-Jin.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  15. Ann Malley says:

    @Fr. K

    ” If you cannot distinguish between Catholic doctrine and some kind of headgear then what can I possibly say?”

    What you can possibly say is, “I apologize,” for pretending that that which is worthy of dignity and respect – in this case traditional and wholly Catholic headgear – is something deserving only a feature in a joke about Chinatown. (Somewhat insensitive and lacking depth, no?)

    And whereas others can and do distinguish, it would seem that you will not with regard to your own obvious, inappropriate dismissal of others praise of that which is beautiful and culturally significant.

    A humble question may be more appropriate in coming to learn why people value symbols and tradition. The mocking derision clangs like a teen rebel who fancies himself in-the-know until life teaches him the lessons he obviously has yet to learn.

  16. jhayes says:

    Gregory DiPippo wrote The jijin was not taken off when the priest went to the altar.

    Yes, this site says that one of the reasons Paul V approved its use by the Jesuit missionaries was that “The subject always covered his head in presence of the superiors, even if it was the emperor. How to explain the faithful to be uncovered in the presence of Jesus Christ?”


    That site has photographs of a number of different jijins.

  17. jhayes says:

    Sorry, the link I gave doesn’t work because it has a couple of Chinese charaters in it that don’t reproduce here.

    Go to http://philippi-collection.blogspot.ca and scroll way down to find Jilin in the list of “Labels” on the right hand side. That link will take you to the articles with the photos I mentioned.

Comments are closed.