Donkey cap

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Donkey cap in the Museo Pedagógico in Montevideo, Uruguay.
"Schulstrafe" (school punishment) by Fritz Bergen. Three humiliation punishments in one: a delinquent boy riding a wooden donkey wears a donkey cap and holds a signboard with the picture of a donkey (see close-up).

The donkey cap was the European and Mexican variant of the dunce cap, commonly used as a psychological school punishment in the 18th and 19th century based on the principle of humiliation. It was a cap with "donkey's ears" to symbolize stupidity.

Design and use[edit]

The donkey cap could be made of folded paper, fabric, or another material. Its design was more varied then the dunce cap, but it always had some sort of "donkey ears".

A typical design consisted in a strip of paper folded in a circle (a paper band), with two donkey ears attached to the sides. The paper band was then thrust around the forehead of the student until it met the student's real ears and could not go down further, and the attached donkey ears would appear like an extension of the student's real ears.

The donkey ears could be made either of rigid paper, so that they would stay straight up once in place, or of loose paper, so that they would dangle on the side of the student's head (much like a dog's ears).

The height of the ears could vary: from quite short to very tall.

The ears could be either of the same color of the paper band, or colored on the inside to reflect a real's donkey ears.

To further increase the humiliation of the student subject to this punishment, some designs would feature a writing on the front part of the paper band. The writing could say "donkey", or the equivalent Spanish terms "burro" (meaning "donkey") or "soy a burro" (meaning "I'm a donkey"). The student would then have to carry such sign on his forehead, in addition to the donkey's ears.

A student made to wear a donkey cap for punishment was often made to kneel in the classroom, which is another difference to the dunce cap which was rarely used in combination with kneeling. A less commonly depicted position was standing, like standing in corner time.

Yet another variant was to make the student also sit astride ("ride") a wooden donkey that was made for this purpose and stood ready for this use in the classroom (see donkey riding).

Television and fetish films[edit]

  • La fessée à l'école ("The Spanking at School") French pornographic spanking stag reel (c. 1935) with donkey cap (video at Xvideos)
  • Cero en conducta, (Mexico, 1998-2003), TV sitcom with spanking scenes set in a classroom where adult actors play the role of school children. Sometimes one of them has to wear a donkey cap with especially large ears as punishment.

Gallery 1 (art)[edit]

Gallery 2 (photos)[edit]

Donkey masks[edit]

School scene with a pupil wearing a donkey mask (Germany, 1488).

The donkey cap has possibly evolved from a donkey mask that was put over a delinquent's head for punishment. In Antiquity, Roman proconsul Eutropius in AD 389 reportedly punished petty thieves with a chastisement with the birch rod and the wearing of a donkey mask.

Donkey masks for punishment were also used in late mediaeval and Renaissance schools, up to the 18th century. A 17th century German handbill[1] had the following related verse:

"Eben also wann die Jugend,
Nicht will lernen Kunst und Tugend,
Träget sie vor ihren Lohn
Einen Eselskopf davon,
Vor den Heller und den Weck,
Kriegen sie die Ruth und Steck,
Vor die Ehre Schand und Spott
Das es heist: Erbarm es Gott".


"Likewise, if the youth
Won't learn skills and virtue,
They have to wear, for their meed,
A donkey's head;
For their money and their bread
They will get the rod and stick;
For their honor, shame and jeer,
Until they say: May God have mercy".

Donkey boards[edit]

In the Netherlands, an ezelsbord ("donkey board", a signboard with the picture of a donkey) was hung around a "stupid" pupil's neck for punishment (see photo).


See also[edit]


  • La fessée à l'école ("The Spanking at School") 1930s sex and spanking stag reel with donkey cap (video at Xvideos)