[tee-ar-uh, -ahr-uh, -air-uh]

A tiara (from Persian تاره tara adopted in Latin as 'tiara') is a form of crown. There are two possible types of crown that this word can refer to.

Traditionally, the word "tiara" refers to a high crown, often with the shape of a cylinder narrowed at its top, made of fabric or leather, and richly ornamented. It was used by the kings and emperors of some ancient peoples in Mesopotamia. The Assyrians used to include a pair of bull horns as a decoration and symbol of authority and a circle of short feathers surrounding the tiara's top. The Persian tiara was more similar to a truncated cone, without the horns and feathers but more jewels, and a conic-shaped tip at its top.

Papal tiara

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Papal Tiara is a high cap surrounded by three crowns and bearing a globe surmounted by a cross worn by the Pope during certain ceremonies, being the symbol of his authority. Since Pope Paul VI set aside his tiara after the Second Vatican Council, the Papal Tiara has not been worn. Pope Benedict XVI even removed the tiara from his Coat of Arms, replacing it with a mitre (but with some symbolic reference to the symbolism of the tiara, still in use in the Holy See's coat of arms). Tiara is also used as a name in many parts of '''the world.

Other tiaras

In modern times, however, a tiara is generally a semi-circular band, often metal, and decorated with jewels, which is worn as a form of adornment. It is worn by women around their head or on the forehead as a circlet on very formal or high social occasions. Tiaras are frequently used to "crown" the winners of beauty pageants. In western countries, a bride often wears a tiara as part of her bridal gown.

Queen Elizabeth II is said to have the largest and most valuable collection of tiaras in the world, many of which are heirlooms of the British Royal Family. She is often seen wearing them on state occasions. Her personal collection of tiaras is considered to be priceless; in addition she received many of them through inheritance, especially from Queen Alexandra, and gifts from foreign countries. For example, a diamond and aquamarine tiara she received was a present from the people of Brazil.

Tiaras in fiction

In fiction, superheroine Wonder Woman is usually depicted wearing a tiara; hers can be thrown as a weapon, as can that worn by the magical girl character known as Sailor Moon, and also all Sailor Senshi wear tiaras. Both Wonder Woman and the Sailor Senshi's Tiaras are worn over their forehead instead of on top of the head as the are traditionally pictured. Princesses in fiction wear tiaras as well.

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