AskDefine | Define kaross

User Contributed Dictionary



From Khoisan (k)caros: a skin blanket, through Afrikaans. (Disputed see talk page.)


  1. A treated animal-skin cloak with the hair still left on.
    • 1996, E Hausen, Human History at the Crossroads: Where Do We Go from Here?, Bergin Garvey/Greenwood, ISBN 0897894839:
      “For the first two years, of life a baby was carried in a carrier, lined with absorbent grass, inside her kaross, (a treated animal skin made into a cape…)”
  2. A blanket of treated animal-skin with the hair left on.
    • 1992, Mark Owens, Delia Cwens, Mark Cwens, Cordelia Dykes Owens, Cry of the Kalahari, Houghton Mifflin Books, ISBN 0395647800:
      “Our bedroom had a sweeping view of the water and clean sheets and towels had been laid out for us on a kaross of jackal pelts.”

Extensive Definition

A Kaross is a cloak made of sheepskin, or the hide of other animals, with the hair left on. It is properly confined to the coat of skin without sleeves and used to be worn by the Khoikhoi and Bushmen of South Africa. These karosses became replaced by a blanket. Their chiefs wore karosses of the skin of the wild cat, leopard or caracal. The word is also loosely applied to the cloaks of leopard-skin worn by the chiefs and principal men of the Kaffir tribes. Kaross is probably either a genuine Khoikhoi word, or else an adaptation of the Dutch kuras (Portuguese cowra^a), a cuirass. In a vocabulary dated 1673 karos is described as a " corrupt Dutch word."
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