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Through The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the majority of the Ferengi we see a wearing a headdress on the back of the head.
a group of Ferengi

Quark though, on Deep Space Nine, does not ever seem to wear one, even though his brother, Rom, and his nephew, Nog, do wear them.
enter image description here

Is there ever a reason given for why Quark does not wear this headdress?

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    Good question. Even in the presence of the societally revered Grand Nagus, he was still defiantly individualistic in this. – eidylon Jan 28 '13 at 15:51
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    Very unlikely to be an overlook by the designers, so there should be a definite answer out there. +1 for a very good question. I suspect it serves to make him stand out from other Ferengi and make him more accessible (observe that he is the only Ferengi portrayed as remotely bright and not one-dimensional). – bitmask Jan 28 '13 at 19:03
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    Not entirely true @bitmask. As DS9 went on, Rom, Nog and even Rom and Quark's mother all became VERY fleshed out, multi-dimensional characters. Heck, their mother even helped to bring character growth the Grand Nagus himself! – eidylon Jan 28 '13 at 19:26
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    The name and purpose of the headdress is unknown, but I strongly suspect @Junuxx is partially correct. Quark, Brunt, Zek, and Gaila don't wear them, and they're all successful in Ferengi business to some degree. Rom and Nog, not so much. – Izkata Jan 29 '13 at 0:12
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    My guess? It keeps the makeup people from having to do the backs of the heads of every Ferengi on the show. Not exactly an in-universe answer, though. :-) – Stephen Collings Jan 31 '13 at 20:18

10 Answers 10

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OOC: Starting with Quark and the launch of DS9 Ferengi characters started showing up sans headdress in both DS9 and TNG. Other than the noted exceptions of Rom and Nog, it seems only speaking Ferengi do not wear headdresses. This is probably to cover up prosthesis seams easier than making a full upper torso piece.

In Universe: As with many canon uniform/outfit questions we can only speculate since it is not directly mentioned in the shows and may be an artifact of current fashion without greater symbolism. But looking at the characters who wear or don't wear the headdress we can infer their symbolism and meaning. All Ferengi that we encounter without the headdress are all known as businessmen, are successful financially, or otherwise dictating their own path (in the case of Dr. Reyga). And those who wear them are either adolescents or those who are not entrepreneurs.

Also these headdresses seem to be somehow related to the earlobe, usually continuing from the top of one lobe to the other. This could be related to the cultural superstition of earlobe's relationship to business acumen, as seen in the of repeated phrase "the lobes for business".

Possibly they originally were created as some sort of hat (considering their home climate) that emphasized the earlobes because of the superstition tying them to success. But as time went on it was considered a sign of small lobes to wear the hat, so it eventually shrunk to the tasteful back band headdress. Quark, Brunt, Zek, and others don't wear them because they are confident in their lobes and don't need any adornment to emphasize them. A parallel could be drawn to the human top hat or fedora, originally used to indicate status, but has fallen out of favor and seen as garish or humorous.

And Moogie, well she is female, no headdress for her. :)

Notable examples of Ferengi along with their headdresses:

  • TNG s1e05 - All three Ferengi have headdress
  • TNG s1e09 - DaiMon Bok and crew have headdress
  • TNG s3e08 - All Ferengi have headdress
  • TNG s3e24 - All Ferengi have headdress
  • TNG s6e07 - Ferengi pirates all have headdress
  • DS9 s1e01 - Quark does not wear a headdress, Nog does, as do Ferengi bartenders, this seems to be standard going forward.
  • TNG s6e22 - Dr. Reyga, does not have headdress
  • DS9 s1e11 - Rom wears headdress (will continue for the whole series), Nagus Zek does not, Nor does Gral and Nava (bot pointed out for their business acumen and had speaking parts)
  • TNG s7e9 - DaiMon Prak does not wear one.
  • DS9 s2e07 - Pel, independent business "man" does not
  • TNG s7e22 - Bok (former DaiMon) still wears one.
  • DS9 s3e23 - Brunt does not wear a headdress
  • DS9 s4e16 - All Ferengi workers of Quark's bar wear headdresses.
  • DS9 s6e10 - Galia (businessman) does not wear a headdress, Leck (Assasin) does
  • DS9 s6e23 - Nilva (important businessman) does not wear a headdress
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    Better? Or should I expand my sources further? – Tyson of the Northwest Feb 10 '13 at 4:23
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    In "The Vistor", Nog is shown in a scene set in a future timeline captaining a Federation starship while still wearing the head dress. If its removal is indicative of status or success as you suggest, then this doesn't fit well with the theory. I suspect if there is an in universe explanation, it's just a fashion thing. – Christi Feb 10 '13 at 15:01
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    But that is the thing, we do see successful ferengi wearing them, but they all seem to be in a position of subordination, or part of a larger organization. Leck the assassin wears one even though he is professionally successful. – Tyson of the Northwest Feb 10 '13 at 17:40
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    The only exception to the "Wears Headdress if subordinate" we see is DaiMon Prak and Brunt. We don't know enough about Prak to speculate, but Brunt seems to be at the pinnacle of the FCA so he may have the privilege of rank. Nog as a captain is still considered a subordinate in the Federation. If he ever became a high rank admiral he may lose the headdress. – Tyson of the Northwest Feb 10 '13 at 18:07
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    @TysonoftheNorthwest - I suspect Nog would always wear the headdress since Starfleet isn't a Ferengi institution, he'll always be considered subordinate (by other Ferengi), he also won't get rich being in Starfleet – SteB Mar 3 '13 at 7:31
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To add on to previous answers, Quark wasn't above wearing a headdress when it suited his purpose, such as in this scene from DS9 5x03 Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places, where he's wearing one (at least in part) to conceal a device that Worf is using to help Quark win a bat'leth duel.

Quark wearing Klingon armor and Ferengi headdress

5

For what it seems, the Ferengi caste system works as the following.

Male Ferengi WITHOUT a headdress is head of the entire family household (main household) and MAY be the oldest if he has the most money.

Male Ferengi who wear suits with tails and fancier decorated suits have high status, the longer the tails the more the status.

Suits lacking tails are of low status and is NOT head of the main household. If a male Ferengi is not married and the father is dead he has the care of the entire household and his status is shown by the cut of his clothing.

If the brother or lower caste brother becomes married he is still not head of the family household unless he can financially support everyone in the main household and his household too.

And with the caste system comes decor--the fancier the suit/dress, the longer the tail the higher the status of the male Ferengi.

So basically, no headdress, long suit tail, and fancier decor marks a high caste and the head male Ferengi of the main household. With a headdress, no suit tail, and a conservative decor the lower the caste and is not the head of the main household.

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    Welcome to the site. This sounds like a great answer but it would be helpful if you can provide reference material (episode dialog, WIKI reference, etc.) that substantiates. – Stan Jul 14 '13 at 2:11
  • Well, it's an observation rather than a researched theory because there is not much information about the male Ferengi headdress but, I will do more research to back up my theories. And thanks to whoever edited. I just wanted to get my thoughts out there. – ElizabethCC Aug 7 '13 at 13:46
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I brought up this question with my husband, hence the search that landed me here. While I have no clue why some do and some don't he suggested that rather than wealth or success it has to do with family position. Quark is a first born son so doesn't wear the headskirt. Women were condemed for wearing clothing, could it be that a second born son would be condemed for being seen without the headskirt?

  • Nog is Rom's firstborn... – 0xF2 Jun 5 '16 at 23:02
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Has anyone seen a Ferengi without the head skirt while working on a starship? Even the Daimon are seen wearing the affectation.

Now, presuming the previous conjecture that those Ferengi serving as subordinates in an institution wear the head skirt, this would seem to fit, however, Nog was seen wearing the head skirt throughout his youth before starting his career in Starfleet.

It could be that children are simply considered subordinate as a general rule, but we don't have reference for other Ferengi children to know and it could just as easily be that Nog was employed by his uncle in some capacity and therefore a subordinate within his business. The way that Ferengi regard business and income, it's not unlikely that Ferengi (male) children might enter into the workforce at a younger age.

Admittedly, this is just further conjecture but with so little concrete information, it's fun to throw ideas around.

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There is one possibility I haven't seen covered yet and that is that the head dress may be something in-between stylish and practical. Maybe it's the Klingon in me but looking at the basic design, the fact we see it a fair if not in every situation in which one is serving aboard a Star Ship it may be the head dress is actually a form of cranium or neck armor meant to protect the head or neck from attack. As the Ferengie became less militaristic it was something used more as a comfort in the same way that one might wear a belt with pants that fit after years of wearing loose pants. Considering the design of the Ferengie head protection of the lower back part of the neck from attack would make sense.

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Perhaps a headdress is considered formal attire, like a tuxedo in human culture. If this is the case, it explains why Ferengi in the more strict environment of a starship - both Ferengi and Starfleet - always wear them. Similarly, the headdress wearing Ferengi at Quark's may simply be dressing to impress, where as Quark - who is the face of the business - does not wear one as he wishes to appear like a relaxed host. This makes Nog's wearing of a headdress while in Starfleet similar to how Worf wears a sash displaying his family crest, which explains why he was allowed to wear it even though it would seem to defy the standard Starfleet dress code - they would be less likely to allow this infraction if the headdress were simply an item fashion.

Grand Nagus Zek however, does not wear a headdress - this is perhaps because his staff confers his status more effectively than formal attire could. Brunt also goes without a headdress, this is perhaps done as an insultive gesture towards Quark and other Ferengi that his FCA duties have him deal with - he refuses to dignify these people by putting on formal attire. Dr Reyga does not wear a headdress as he seems to object to many of the conventions of his culture. Pel's lack of headdress might be due to her own ignorance, the patriarchal Ferengi society is unlikely to teach a female correct etiquette, this was probably only tolerated as Quark was infatuated with her.

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I just want to point out that Star Trek is exceptionally well known for inconsistencies. In this particular case, it should be noted that TNG first introduced the Ferengi as a pseudo-villainous culture with minimal appearances, thus it can be assumed that the the cultural background was not fully fleshed out at the time (aside from the the ideas of a predominantly capitalist society and basic costuming features such as the headdress). Also in terms of status and rank with regards to the headdress, DS9 is the only reasonable source of accurate information, in which case I agree that the headdress is representative of status and most likely wealth. The following series of Voyager distinctly portrays a facsimile of Starfleet HQ created by species 8472 (something around 5 or 6 years after DS9, I don't know the exact episode number) with an abundance of Ferengi SF academy students, all wearing headdresses. This either implies an acceptance of Ferengi into the federation during that time, or a misunderstanding by species 8472 about the federation and its members (since there would not have been any Ferengi on Voyager as Nog was the first to join Starfleet after voyager left DS9, and when compared to the Bajoran acceptance process and the exceptionally apparent conflicts of the Ferengi rules of acquisition with Federation guidelines would have taken more than 6 years to to gain Federation membership)

It should be noted that several races have been significantly revised since their first introduction (such as the Klingon) since their first introduction in TOS, and as a result, the franchise has suffered by focusing on trying to correct these inconsistencies (Star Trek: Enterprise trying to explain the transition of very human-looking Klingon of TOS to the the makeup costumes of TNG ended up as something of a train-wreck of bad storytelling and even worse acting)

  • I've removed the opinionated rubble at the end, it doesn't add anything to an otherwise reasonably good answer to the question asked. – Edlothiad Mar 29 '18 at 5:15
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Nobody mentions that in DS9:7x10 "It's Only A Paper Moon," Nog is wearing the head skirt while in uniform and while he's depressed on his medical leave. However, once he moves into the holosuite and starts enhancing the success of Vic's business, he dresses in "upper-class" attire for Earth in the 1960s and does not wear the headgear. Then when he returns to the uniform, so too does the headdress.

IMHO the insurance of Quark wearing one to disguise the mimic equipment to win the bat'leth fight in DS9:5x03 should be ignored for these purposes, as it is both the singular instance odd Quark being seen wearing one, and is specifically being worn to conceal the deceit. Had he not needed to cover the device he would not have worn one, sorted by the lack of headdress when he appeared before the Klingon high council when first meeting Grilka in "The House of Quark (DS9:3X03)."

I think the on screen evidence supports the lack of headdress being a symbol of entrepreneurial status (females notwithstanding, as they are denied the wearing of clothes for most of the timeline). No matter how "successful" your business is, if you're a business owner you can go without the headgear (i.e. Quark lacking his own despite several instances in DS9 of the bar being on the verge of closing and Quarrel nearly bankrupt). It might also hold that it is a matter of military custom or uniform regulation that Ferengi wear the headdress, which would carry over to Starfleet based on Nog's recommendations for customs and traditions - Starfleet likely did not have a relation governing Ferengi culture as Nog was the first in Starfleet. This would explain why civilian business owners would forgo the head skirt while subordinates would wear them, while even high ranking members of Ferengi military or paramilitary organizations and Starfleet would still wear them. Just a thought.

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    Except that there are numerous examples that contradict this; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/31105/… – Valorum Jul 4 at 23:31
  • None of those actually contradict anything I said. The ship crews and leadership can be viewed as military or paramilitary, which would fall in line with the "traditional uniform" part of my thought. DaiMon is a command rank amongst Ferengi that roughly translates to "captain" or "leader," and so the headdress would be warranted as military tradition. Likewise with the pirates, who could view themselves as a paramilitary organization. The other examples of important/ successful entrepreneurs not wearing them also supports what I've suggested. – KaptainKaos54 Jul 5 at 15:57
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It seems to me that it may be as simple as those without the 'headskirt" are the business owners and those with are the work force.

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