Greece:  500-336 B.C.

Figure 1.  Greece is a peninsula extending into the Mediterranean Sea.  It is full of many island, one of the largest being Crete.

As the first metal alloy, bronze, made from copper and tin, was found between 4500 and

3000 B.C.E (Before Common Era)  the term Bronze Age is used to identify the period.  The Assyrians used bronze technology early in the Bronze Age and was used at the height of their military power. However, Crete and Greece were late Bronze Age users, so the Bronze Age ended there about 1200 B.C. when iron technology became common.

Between approximately 1600 and 1100 B.C., the Greeks are farmers ruled by Minoan and Mycenaean kings.  The Mycenaeans were know as warriors and used bronze weapons.  Agamemnon is said to have been killed there.  This culture declined around 1200 BCE.  The Doric and Ionic invaders from the north arrived on horseback and with iron weapons.

This period is generally known as the Mycenaean Age for ancient Greece;  1100 to 750 B.C. is the Dark Ages of invasions including the Dorians; 750-500 B.C. the Archaic Period; 500 to 336 B.C.   the Classical Period; and  336 to 146  B.C. the Hellenistic Period.  While the costumes in this lecture might touch on other periods, we will mainly focus on Classical period.   There is a good article titled “The Age of Pericles:Athenas Metropolis” at www.mars.acnet.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/wc1/lectures/08pericles.html

(I was unable to get the link to work on this page, but try to put in Pericles in a google search.)

Greece is not large but is a region of great variety for it has mountains, fertile plains, and sea coast.  The inland people who depended on agriculture were traditional and conservative.  While the coastal people were a community of fishermen and traders. The people were self-sufficient but each community specialized in the fruits of their environment, i.e., olives in Attica, marble in Melos, etc. This encouraged trade and constant communication between the city-states.  The country was poor in minerals (little cold, silver, copper) and had no coal.

The Greeks spent much time out of doors, and time in dialogue with the community.  This constant dialogue was very important.  It is interesting to note that Socrates, a philosopher who changed human thought, did not write anything and only left his community twice.  While the Greeks valued a kind of democracy (there was a little difference between the wealthy and poor, the educated and uneducated) they owned slaves who did most of the manual labor.

Textiles

The Greeks mainly used finely woven woolen fabrics.  The women were known for their weaving and embroidery skills.

However, as they had more contact with other cultures, linen and silk were used as well.  The fabrics were brightly colored, except for the himation.  We generally think of the ancient Greeks in white only because so many of the statues lost color over the hundreds of years exposure to the elements.  Actually their garments were quite colorful as they had many natural dyes.

The Greeks also pleated some of their fabrics by wetting the fabric in a thin starch, twisting it carefully, and setting out to dry.   (See Figure 6) The fashion of pleating, however, tended to fade out with the Roman influence.

Women’s Costume

The information on garments comes from the writings of Homer, paintings on vases, pottery, terracottas, and statues.  During the Mycenaean period, the woman wore a garment called the peplos, (See Figure 5 and 7) that was a composite garment with a “bib” in the front and back and a tight waist.  The tight waist might have been a remnant of the Crete influence, but the bib in the front was carried on by the classical Greek women.

The Classical Greek women first wore a simple rectangular draped garment called the chiton.   There were two basic types of chitons.  The Doric and the Ionic.  These will parallel the Doric and Ionic columns seen in Greek architecture.  Figure 8 shows the basic Doric chiton.  (Note the nude woman on the right hand side.  She is putting a support around her breasts.  These were the only undergarments worn at that time.  It was not typical for women to be seen nude.)

In its simplest version, the doric chiton exceeds the height of the wearer by about one foot.  The width is two times the distance from elbow to elbow.  Thus each chiton was woven to fit the exact proportion of the wearer.  It is draped around the body and held together with fibulae (a kind of decorated pin that derived its name from its origins: a small animal bones used to fasten garments) at the shoulder, leaving room for the arms.  It may be belted or girdled at the waist or across the chest. The girdle could be made of cord, leather, or flat woven tape.  These were classical draped garments.  Although the Greeks knew tailoring skills from the Myceneans and Cretes, they only wore draped garments.

However, doric chiton could be worn in different configurations.  If the chiton was longer, the top edge could be folded down causing a peplos. The peplos might extend to the waist, but if it was longer it was called an apotygma.   Also, with a longer chiton the wearer could chose to secure deep folds (called kolpos) at the waistline that would be held in place by the girdle.

Look carefully at the different versions of the doric chiton. The hang of the fabric, the exact shape of the kolpos, the drape of the peplos are not accidental.   The Greek people were very concerned with the aesthetics of the way the clothing draped on the body and subtle revealing of the body.  The invested time in making sure the draping effect was just what they wanted through the use of the girdle. The beauty of the garment gave status to the wearer.  A special prestige was given to the skills of draping this garment.

Gradually the Doric chiton evolved into an ionic chiton.

An interesting, but not substantiated, story on the development of the ionic chiton is told at the following website:  www.annaswebart.com/culture/costhistory/ancient/

The ionic chiton, again, was a rectangular piece the cloth, generally out of a much finer fabric, that was the same length as the Doric chiton.  The width, however, was twice the width of finger tip to fingertip of the wearer.  Instead of being pinned with one pin at each shoulder, a series of small pins were used forming a kind of sleeve.  It was often sewn up at part of the sides or at the top of the arm.  The difference between the ionic chiton and the doric chiton is that a finer fabric is used in the ionic chiton and a greater number of pins. This resulted in a more delicate look and greater number of folds. In addition, the ionic chiton did not have a peplos. At one time period, the ionic chiton was used as an indication of status.

The Greeks used a series of large rectangular pieces of cloth that they draped around themselves for warmth, much in the same manner as we use a shawl.  The most common of these was the himation. This was a large oblong piece of material about 7 or 8 feet in length and in breadth about equal to the wearer’s height.  It was almost always white and women generally did not go outside without it.  While the himation was used by both men and women,  the women always wore a chiton under it.  Women also used the diplax, which was a smaller version of the himation.

There were many different shawls and veils worn by the Greek women.  Each is based on a rectangle shape but they differ in size, fabric weight and purpose.  The Greeks were masters of layering and would just build up layers of fabric for utilitarian purposes.

As the society had more communication with other cultures (Rome, Persia) the costumes tended to become more elaborate and parts were sewn into the draped garment.  One example is the false apotygma which is an extended piece sewn to the front neck edge of the chiton, generally extends below the waist, and is often shaped.  Note the small oval shaped objects at the tips of the apotygma extension.  These are weights.  The Greeks often put weights (in the form of clay or metal) at strategic places in the garments to weight them and give a better drape.

Women did not typically wear undergarments.  The girdle served a double purpose of holding the chiton in place while supporting the breasts.  After influence of the Romans the women might use a strophion (see figure 8), a band for the bust, waist, and hips using shoulder straps to hold the band in place.  It was used to emphasize the hips rather than to decrease the waist as small waists were not popular.

Men’s Clothing

As the Greek climate was mild, it was not uncommon for Greek men to be seen with little clothing.  In fact, prior to the 7th century B.C. most of the depictions of men are in the nude.  After this they are seen with a short chiton or  a chlamys, which was a rectangular piece of fabric fastened only at one shoulder.  In many of the illustrations, nothing is worn under this garment.   Since the chlamys is worn for activity such as riding horses, working outdoors, sports, etc., often men wore a petasus, a broad rimmed hat, with this garment to protect them from the sun.  For further information about adjusting the chlamys see:   www.topology.org/ideas/chlamys.html

Men, too, wore the white himation, which was much larger in size and a finer fabric than the chlamys so that the draping was evident. Often a man’s culture and character were judged by the folds and draping in their garments.  Bits of clay might be used as weights to enhance the draping characteristics. Again, this was often worn with nothing under it.  It was used for inactive occasions while the chlamys was worn for active occasions.

A version of the shorter chiton is called exomis and this is a short Doric chiton fastened only on one shoulder.  See Figure 35.  Although it is mainly a male garment, it was worn by women as well.

Warriors

The warriors wore breastplates of leather which were often metal studded or with metal plates sewn into the cloth.  They also had crested helmets of leather or bronze.  Leaders carried round iron shields and iron swords, while the soldiers had bronze or iron spears. Iron was a valued commodity. Protection for the hips was provided by extending the bodice vest-like garment.  You will note on Figure 37 that there is no protection for the lower portion of the torso.

Hair Style

The Greeks had a very natural hairstyle for both men and women.  Generally the men were clean shaven and wore their hair short sometimes with a fillet band around the head.  Some philosophers may have beards and longer hair, but it was not common.

The women had long hair but wore it up in a bunch in the back following the natural curves of the head.  The resulting bunch was called a Psyche Knot.   It was often held in place by a caul, a piece of fabric covering the bunch. The female in Figure 39 wears her hair in a psyche knot with an ampex, or diadem, of leaves.

A Phrygian Bonnet was sometimes used.  The Phrygian kingdom in Asia Minor was in its glory between 1000-700 B.C.  The hat they used was copied or adapted many times:  in the French Revolution, in the Goddess of Liberty in the U.S., in the old dime.

Footwear

Sandals were commonly worn  both men and women.  The Greeks were the first culture to have both a right and left shaped soles.  This concept disappears during the Dark Ages and Middle Ages.  Buskin boots were worn for warriors.

Movies associated with this period:      Troy

Alexander

Discussion:
By using a flat piece of cloth, 2 safety pins, a fibulae, draping, and a girdle, I think I was able to obtain some kind of aesthetic effect. Probably not in the same way as the Greeks were able to achieve. I used a sequin fabric which was a light weight material, and I pinned 2 safety pins on each side of my shoulders. I used a leather belt as a girdle and i draped it like a Chiton. Obviously, I was not able to achieve such a look like the Greeks costume because of the type of fabric I used. The fabricwas itchy and Sequin did not exist in the Greek times. I did not have any woven flat fabrics, nor did I have any wool or linen that was heavy weight enough to make a good draping like the Doric Chiton. Draping of the garmetns was very important to the Greeks and I feel that I could not achieve that look with my cloth. There was however some draping on the sides but the draping did not compare to that of the Greeks draping.

Today in fashion, the waist belt is somewhat of a modern day representation of the Greek’s Girdle. It is still being used in a sense that women wear belts around the waist for the cinched look making the waist more slim. The belt can be for accessorizing a shirt, dress, or skirt to make an outfit look more fashionable.

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Egypt 3000 BC to 200 BC

The zeitgeist of Egypt was much different than that of the Assyrian culture. The Assyrians were physically more muscular and square, while the Egyptians were lean and graceful; the Assyrians were warriors and needed to constantly protect their territory, while the Egyptians lived in relative freedom from invasion.  The Egyptian culture was located on the Nile River and very much isolated from other cultures because of the Sahara Desert on the west side, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Red Sea to the East, and mountains to the south.  For 2500 years there were few cultural contacts and little change in the society. The Assyrian culture was in constant flux with changes in leadership, religions, and culture.

The Egyptian history is calculated according to Dynasties as well as years.  Dynasty I is dated 2920 BC,  pyramids were built during the III through VI Dynasties, Aknenaten (the first monotheist) and his wife Nefertiti ruled from 1378-1362 BC XVIII Dynasty, Tutankhamun also ruled in the XVIII Dynasty, Cleopatra VII ruled from 51-30 BC during the XXII Dynasty.  www.nefertiti.iwebland.com/dynasties.htm

The context of this course is not to divide the Egyptian culture into timeline  sections, but to see ancient Egypt as a whole.  Those interested in seeing the differences in garments as the culture moves from one Dynasty to another should consider focusing on that topic in your research paper.

The rulers, nobles and priestly classes maintained themselves as absolute power over the great masses of people.  They were a very ordered society relying on and having great respect for nature.  Egypt is located in a very warm atmosphere along the 600 mile run of the Nile River.  Most of the culture lives along this river and it plays a major role in their lives.  The Nile is neither calm nor violent, but it leaves its effect on the people.  From the overflow of the Nile rich soil is left from which the people can grow crops, if the overflow does not happen they exist in a famine period.  In many ways the Nile is Egypt:  it cares for them and provides them with food.  It is both mother and father to them.  In fact, the Egyptian Nile god, Hapi, is male but has female breasts.

Researchers have knowledge of the Egyptian culture due to the Rosetta Stone, a stone written in 196 B.C. that had two languages and three scripts (hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek) written in it.  The Rosetta Stone was found by Napoleon’s army in 1803 but was confiscated by the British.  It took another 23 years for any one to decipher the hieroglyphics, Egyptian writing, on this stone.  See http://www.crystalinks.com/rosetta.html.

The Egyptians are a very calculating people, perhaps because they were forced to predict the Nile and had to foresee famines or periods of plenty.  They dealt with the every present contradiction of the Nile and desert.  The synthesized the old and new, never discarding but incorporating.  A good example is the pshent, the crown of upper and lower Egypt.  During the first and second dynasties, Menes united the kingdoms of upper and lower Egypt, and instead of discarding the crowns, united them.

Figure 2 depicts a statue wearing the crown of Lower Egypt and carrying a staff of authority.  Figure 3 is an illustration showing many common Egyptian motifs.  The three motifs in the upper right hand side show (from left to right) the crown of Lower Egypt, the crown of Upper Egypt, and the combined crown, the Pshent.

The Egyptians saw magic and nature in everything around them: life, animals, spirits, etc.  For example, birds were often thought of as the soul of men flying away.  Numerous animals were sacred, some regionally,(such as crockadiles were worshiped in Crockadopolis and some nationally, such as the scarab, the symbol of protection and often placed on the mummy’s head so during the last judgment he/she should not be found wanting.  In Figure 3 you should note the wasp symbol.

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Religion

They believed in life after death and that death would be a better continuation of the life on earth.  Therefore, they wanted to be prepared and take as much of what they had as possible.  Death was eternity and their tombs and pyramids were built to last a long time.  Houses, on the other hand, were temporary dwellings, made from unstable materials. However, they were spacious and beautiful.


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An interior in one of the late dynasty periods.  The architecture was very influenced by the Greeks by that time.  However the many details are decidedly Egyptian:  strong colors, papyrus and lotus motifs on the columns, statue of Isis wearing a white kalasaris, and a worker wearing a white schenti.

There were many gods and religious symbols which were based on images from nature:  Sun God, River God, vulture headdress, stylized beetle, cobra, etc.

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Textiles

Egyptians are known for their fine weaving.  As early as 2800BC tombs were found with linen fabrics with a count of 300 yarns per inch.  They wove rugs and fabrics, some embroidered and some woven in checkered patterns.  This was highly sophisticated.  According to some wall paintings there is evidence that they also printed some of their fabrics, but these patterns have not endured the environment although we see them on the tomb walls.  See Figure 10.

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The Egyptians did have the use of wool after the XVIII Dynasty, but it was considered unclean and not used widely.  In fact during some dynastic periods any animal fur was prohibited from being worn in the temples, but there is contradictory information that shows the priests and nobles using leopard skins within the temples.  (See Figure 36.)

Women’s clothing

The main garment for women was the kalasaris, a tubular garment extending under to breasts to the ground with one or two straps going from the top edge of the kalasaris over the shoulder.  The tightness would seemingly make this garment difficult to walk in, let alone do any work such as the woman carrying a basket

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During the later Dynasties, the women sometimes put a “second kalasaris” over the first one which was a fuller garment.  This was often worn alone and was called a gala gown.  It could be pleated as well, but was always made from finely woven linen.


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The Nile River is an important contributor to life (plentiful crops) and death (famine) as it provides the water for food.  The Egyptians revered the Nile as the giver of life, and in that same way appreciated the female as a giver of birth.  You will note in this depiction that the female body focuses on an extended tummy.

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The Egyptian people believed the body was beautiful and had no shame of nudity.  Therefore, their garments are revealing and no undergarments are mentioned. Often, the people wore no clothing at all, as in Figure 16 the children are nude. They bath frequently and are highly conscious of hygiene, cosmetics, and appearances.

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Men’s Clothing

The garment of most men was the loin cloth, a piece of cloth that wrapped around the lower body much like a diaper. (See Figure 23). However, the men also wore a schenti, which was fuller, extended to the knee and was often pleated in the front

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  • Upper row left side a man wearing a long schenti covered with an ureaus, a highly decorated piece of cloth that sits on top of the schenti.  In this case it is red and blue.
  • Egyptians did have chariots and horses, but these items were not common.
  • The archer in the second row is wearing a long printed tunic.  Contemporary costume historians do not know how they got into this garment since no knitted fabrics or references to knitting was known.  Generally tunics were short and are similar to the Assyrian kandys.
  • The bottom row of busts shows an assortment of headdresses.  Each is a symbol of a different status and/or occupation.
  • Note the postiche on two of the busts-extreme left on the bottom row and the top bust on the right hand side.  The postiche is the artificial beard.  You can see the straps that attach it to the ears.

A garment of mystery is the Triangular Extension, which was worn over the schenti and protruded out in the front, much like a pyramid.  It is uncertain how this garment was constructed or how it was held up.  It appears to be worn by men of rank.

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Hairstyles

Cleanliness and comfort were very important to the Egyptians.  It was common for both men and women to shave their heads and wear wigs that were designed to sit about ½ inch away from the head.  This allowed a cooling circulation of air to go over the scalp. See Figure 13 and note the very large black wig.  In addition, a shaved head was easier to clean.  While some of the wigs were made from human hair, other wigs were made from hemp and other fibers.  For people of weath, gold coverings or jewelry and beads might be added to the wigs.

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Some wigs contained a Horus lock, which was a section of hair that was longer than the other sections.  It was a religious symbol that indicated the loyalty of a son to his father, or loyal of children. See Figure 22.

The cloft, a piece of cloth, was used to cover the head.  This is what the famous sphinx is wearing.  It is also referred to as a Nemes Headdress

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The Egyptians believed in phrenology, the science of head shape reading (an actual course of study in 19th century European and American universities).  Therefore they (like some American Indian tribes, some European cultures, some African tribes) would often take pains to shape the head to the idealized shape.  See Figure  41.  Note the kohl and the pierced ears for those large earrings

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The Egyptian nobility, pharaohs, and gods wore fantastic headdresses that contained many of their religious symbols.

Vulture headdress

Winged globe

Ram’s horns

Facial hair was shaved as well.  However, men and women of importance and authority would wear a postiche, or false beard for state occasions.  The long, thin postiche was fitted to the chin and attached to the ears with straps. If the postiche was short and stubby it indicated men of royal rank, if long but straight and thick it indicated the pharaoh, and the gods or the “pharaoh as a god” wore the long postiche but curved at the end..  See Figures 39 and 40.

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Accessories

The broad neck collar is the most obvious accessory worn by both men and women.  It is a circular necklace made of faience (clay beads), shells, glass beads, semi-precious stones, hemp, and/or gold.  The materials of the broad collar vary widely, but the shape remains consistent.  It takes on a religious role in that it protects the neck from being separated from the body.  In the Egyptian religion, it was vital that a person be buried with all of their parts so that they could be reborn.  You could not be reborn without a head!

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The armbands were often worn on the upper arms, at the wrists, and at the ankles.  These were often inlayed as the knife handle below.

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The Egyptians were excellent craftspeople.  They were skilled in inlaying semi-precious stones and wood, woodworking, stone carving, pottery, clay, enamel, goldsmithing, alabaster.


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Some Religious Symbols

Feather – intellect, talent

Lotus – flower of upper Egypt, abundance  (See Figure

Papyrus – flower of lower Egypt, abundance (See Figure

Scarab – symbol of the Sun God, protector

Scroll – stylized Nile

Zig-zag – stylized Nile

Fly – military power (annoyance in the face of the enemy)

Emblem of Uraeus – four cobras, symbol of king’s power over life and death – www.shira.net/symbols.htm

Crook and Flayle – symbol of king’s right to impose justice (See Figure 3, second row 1st and 2nd images)

Asp, cobra, ureaus – royal power

Vulture headdress – power, authority

Anka, Key of life   www.touregypt.net/featurestories/ankh.htm (See Figure 3, second row, last image)

Eye of Ra and Eye of Thoth   www.tigtail.org/TIG/S_View/TVM/E/Ancient/Egypt/Egypt-info/egypt.gods_intro.html

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In art and life the Egyptians loved clarity of form retaining the long simple waist-cloth which did not obscure the natural lines of the body and preferring linen materials of fine texture.  Whereas the Assyrians loved pomp and luxury, clothing hid the body in heavy stuffs with rich patterns and elaborate fringes.  The zeitgeist of their culture dictated this moral body covering much more than did the Egyptian culture.

Discussion:

Men and women wore mostly wasp waists during the Cretan times, but tailored garments became part of their culture that displayed their body through the shape of the garments. Though women were not able to wear pants until the 20th century, I believe that this was the beginning era for pants. Only later on, the pants were more industrialized due to better technology.

As humans, we are born into this hegemonic view that the world consisted of dominant cultures wanting to control one person or one nation. When we were young, we grew up believing that pants are strictly made for men to wear and strictly skirts were meant for women to wear. This idea of bifurcated garments challenges this idea by making a garment look like a skirt and pants that both men and women can wear.

It is hard to identify whether these pictures seen in the book and lecture are really bifurcated garments because of not many resources. Bifurcated garments can be categorized in draped clothing, composite clothing, and tailored clothing. Draped clothing because from the pictures we can see that it is worn like a skirt or sarong like the Assryian culture. Composite clothing is shown through the one seam aspect down the middle of the garment. Tailor clothing because Cretans were very familiar with this method. Their skills were good and they knew how to sew a garment making the cloth fit the body very well. This idea probably arose due to working situations and conditions during labor, making it easier for everyone to move around and do work.

Here are some pictures I found depicting the idea of bifurcated garments

Religion

They believed in life after death and that death would be a better continuation of the life on earth.  Therefore, they wanted to be prepared and take as much of what they had as possible.  Death was eternity and their tombs and pyramids were built to last a long time.  Houses, on the other hand, were temporary dwellings, made from unstable materials. However, they were spacious and beautiful.

Primary vs. Secondary sources

September 25, 2009

Artifacts such as clothing, painting, and furniture can be used as primary or secondary sources to determine a culture and a history depending on where the information came from. An example of a primary source would be an actual excerpt from Anne Frank’s diary. Primary sources are those that are the earliest in a sequence. In my opinion, primary sources are much harder to find because much of the historical information might date back to the beginning of time. It is a primary source if either a document or a physical object was presented during that certain time period. But even then primary sources may be inaccurate because through pictures or paintings, it is hard to determine the true shape of a garment or the back side of a vase. In this case I think it’s best to do as much research as we can and make an educated guess.

An example of a secondary source would be a published textbook analyzing Anne Frank’s Diary. Secondary sources are derived from something original. Unlike primary sources which are the original source, secondary sources are the analyzed work from the primary source. This might include things like pictures and quotes put together into a collective; like a book or a magazine. Secondary sources may be contradictory also because the analysis of an artist or an author may be incorrect or bias, but that just brings analyzing to another level in which more research must be conducted. In the example on Figure 19 in Lecture 3, a well known artist may not be completely accurate due to studies of that certain time period. However, the artist itself might be telling a story from their perspective that might need to be taken into account.

Today, historians can uncover the secrets behind the Egyptian culture. With all the information from both primary and secondary sources, they can analyze any history about the costume, any history about the people and their common resources.

Mesopotamian (Assyrian) era

September 25, 2009

Mesopotamian (Assyrian)

The following map of the physical environment of Mesopotamia, Assyria, Sumer, Ur, etc. is located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and is known as one of the most important Fertile Crescents, places where civilization expanded due to the rich soil.  There is the earliest evidence of human culture in this region around 5000 BCE.  By 4700 BGE there is evidence of pottery, by 4400 BCE there is evidence of metal making, and by 3900 BCE there is evidence of temple building and other sophisticated architecture.  The first Sumerian dynasty of Ur is dated 2750 BCE, the old Babylonian period is from 1800-1170 BCE, the first known code of laws by Hammurabi is 1728-1685 BCE, the Assyrian period is from 1200-612 BCE.   While you need not memorize these dates, you should have a perspective of where the culture fits into other cultures we will examine.

The rivers were loosely parallel to each other and lead into the Persian Gulf.  Note the many cities located on these rivers.  You should also note the location of Egypt (Lecture #3), its placement on the Nile, another Fertile Crescent, and proximity to the Mesopotamia region.  They were roughly inhabited during the same time period.

Note Figure 1, a map of ancient Mesopotamia showing the location of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.  Because of the rich soil many tribes of people coming from north, south, east, and west, inhabited the region and battled to take possession.  The dominant cultures changed frequently over a 3000 year period. Therefore, wars were not uncommon, defensive posturing was predictable, and the people developed a warrior attitude.  There are many carvings depicting siege engines (highly developed equipment for warfare) plus the society employed highly skilled metallurgists for the Bronze Age.  Women were more isolated, and the cultures in Mesopotamia favored a muscular body build which can be seen in many reliefs and statues.

Human headed winged bull, 721-705 BCE.

The religion of the culture was important and mixed human images with animal images to create some of their gods.  Figure 2 and 3 show the mixture.

In Figure 3, a relief of a half-human, half-bird god of a neo-Assyrian period about 883 BCE (Before Common Era), notes the muscular development in the calves of the image.  Also note carefully the apparent strength of the forearms.

The relief in Figure 3 is wearing a kandys (candys) which is the short sleeved tunic that reaches from the neck to the mid thigh, and a fringed shawl wrapped around.

is the Eagle-Headed Deity, a relief carved between 883 and 859 BCE.  The winged deity stands facing a tree of life (you can only see the tips of the branches).  This figure was a small section of the wall decoration in the state apartments of the royal palace at Nimrud in northern Iraq.  The deity holds a bucket in one hand and in the other a spathe (leaf-like sheath for the flowers) of the date palm.  He is tending the tree, a symbol of vegetal life and fertility.  He, and many more like him, originally brightly highlighted with black, white, red, and blue paint, formed the ornamentation around a room near the throne room thought to have served as a place of ritual bathing.  The motif stresses the political and religious importance of nurturing both the kingship and the land for the prosperity of Assyria.  (from www.dia.org/collections/ancient/mesopotamia

The rich soil allowed the people to grow corn, dates, and figs.  They raised cattle and abundant sheep.  Early in their history they developed an irrigation system to regulate the rivers.  Trade and civilization thrived here around 2500 BCE.

Due to the raising of sheep, the Mesopotamians were highly skilled in the production of wool and cloth from the woolen yarns.  The fringed shawl evolved from the early development of wool.  At one point the Mesopotamians used the sheep skins that developed into a kaunakes style that appears to be bunches of wool.  However, they could also be fringes. (See Tortora illustrations and Figures 11, 12, 13, 14.)  Since no artifacts other than statues and reliefs have survived it is difficult to know for certain how these garments were made.

Costume is a complementary language through which civilizations have expressed themselves and revealed their manner of life.  Between 5000 and 4500 BCE Western Civilization had its beginning in the two great river valleys of the near east.  The Nile in Egypt and the Tigris-Euphrates in Mesopotamia.  The ancient civilization that evolved in Mesopotamia was a result of tribal wars and conquests made over and over again.  The people developed the first city-states and these governmental units were organized for military efficiency and dominated by religious supernaturalism.  They also gave the beginnings of a civil society, coded laws, divided labor, and fostered the arts.

The illustration of a clay tablet above is an example of cuneiform, one of the first methods of communicating and keeping records in a written form.  The Sumerian civilization is one of the oldest known and cuneiform is the language those people developed.  The Sumerian cuneiform characters were used phonetically in the Semetic-Akkadian languages until 3000 BCE, and still, during the first millennium BCE the scribes collected texts and copied them diligently in the Sumerian language which had been extinct as a spoken language for centuries.

Ziggurats were monuments to their gods and were basically a square structure that through steps got smaller and smaller at the tip.  Note the protruding structure near the top wall in Figure 5.  It is a ziggurat.  At the top of this a small structure was built to house a virgin maid.

Figure 6 shows the gates to the entrance of a palace.  Note the square, heavy feeling, and the reliefs at the base with strong animal depictions.

Figure 6. Gateway of Sargon’s Palace, 706 BCE

Since the tribes were constantly warring there is not a continuation of one culture (as you will find in the Egyptian culture of the same period) but a blend of Urs, Amazons, Semites, Akkads, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Hitittes, and Mesopotamians.  The cultures vary somewhat, but they continued with the important developments and there are some basic clothing ideas that were passed through all of these cultures.  The concept that cultures borrowed from each other is very true, however, the degree of the “borrowing” went from a low percentage (close to 5% in the case of the Anglo-Saxons borrowing from the Roman) to a very high percentage (close to 90% in the case of the Romans borrowing from the Greeks).  The cultures of the Tigris/Euphrates Valley borrowed heavily from each other.  The Hitittes were far to the north close to the Tarus Mountains (see map), but their architecture, clothing, and artistic style resembles the Mesopotamia styles. Figure 6A.  Hititte crown with deer since a deer once cared for a Hititte leader in the wilderness and saved his life.  13th century B.C.

13th century B.C. Hititte carvings of soldiers.

Figure 6C.  13th century Hititte architecture.  Lion Gates, from the ruins at Hattusa Restoration Site, Anatolia, Turkey.

Brief Timeline

3000-2350 BCE      – Sumerian

2350-2218 BCE     –   Acadian

2140-2000 BCE    –    Sumerian Revival

1894-1595 BCE    –    Babylonian Empire

911-612 BCE       –     Assyrian Empire

550-330 BCE       –     Persian Empire

Female Clothing

Women are not frequently displayed so sources for their clothing are scarce.  However, in the early Sumerian period there are depictions of both men and women in the kaunakes style of tuffs of fur or fringes in the early Sumerian periods.  The rhino is a cape worn with the pagne (kaunakes style) skirt.  These two main items gradually develop into the kandys and the fringed shawl.  The kandys of the female covered the shoulders and upper arms and extended to the ankles.  These were made of finely woven wool.  Some of the kandys had designs of small motifs, but it is not known if these were woven in, embroidered on the surface, or printed.  The daisy motif was favored. (See figure 25)

Figure 7 – statuettes of women.  The woman on the left is wearing a rhino and pagne skirt.

The archeologist C. L. Wooley, found in the tomb of Queen Shubad (circa 2000 BCE) in Sumeria precious jewels, diadems of gold, ornamental and very long necklaces, a small box in malachite for cosmetics, and other articles for the toilette.  These support the notion that the Sumerians had a concern for beauty, luxury, and were a people who took extremely good care of their person and attire.

The women sometimes created dresses by employing a unique shawl wrapped spirally around the entire figure, up to the neck. See figure  8 and 9.  There were many ways of wrapping the shawl.  Note in all cases the shoulders were covered, the body was concealed, the legs were concealed.

Figure 8 and 9

While the hair styles of the women favored binding the hair into a back chignon held with a fillet, the women often wore shallow, bowl-shaped hats (See figure 10) and embellished them by adding spiral-shaped decorations.

Figure 10. Harpist with close cap, c. 2000-1600 BCE

The headpiece in Figure 10A was discovered in the 20th century.  It is from the 8th century BCE and found in a tomb below the harem rooms.  Clearly the wealth women used beautiful accessories.  Note the winged figures and the daisy motifs.

Figure 10A.  Crown

Male Clothing

The male of the ancient Sumerians often worn the pagne skirt in kaunakes style (a goat or sheep skin with long tufts of hair), but without a top.  This was long worn by the men a dress of honor for great warriors.

A banquet, 2700-2600 BCE, note the pagnes or kaunakes style of dress, musical instruments, baskets of wine, animals to be butchered.  Can you spot a woman?

As with the women the style developed into the kandys (a tunic-like garment worn with short sleeves and that reached to mid-thigh or to the ankles) around 2500 BCE.

Figure 14.  Illustration showing two different styles of kandys.  Note the same neckline, short sleeves, and tubular straight garment.

The men also wore a fringed shawl, a rectangular shaped fabric with long fringes around the edges and wrapped around the body in a spiral fashion.  Look carefully at Figure 15 and you will note the diagonal lines in the skirt of his garment.  These are the edges of the fringed shawl that have been wrapped in a spiral fashion around his body.

In figure 16 there is evidence of short fringes at the bottom of the kandys as well as on the edges of the fringed shawl, which wraps around the waist and over the shoulder of each man.  Again, note the muscular depictions in the forearms.  In addition, generally a wide cloth belt is worn around the waist with a narrow belt over it to hold knives.

Figure 16A.  13th Century BC ancient Hititte carving.   Note that the hair looks somewhat  like the Egyptian hair, but the muscular tone to the body, the short sleeved kandys, and the cape with a fringe on the edge definitely put this carving into the Mesopotamia era.

Figure 17.  From and early 20th century costume book, Tilke.  The six figures in this slide give several different ways of wrapping the fringed shawl.  The man in a blue kandys wraps his purple fringed shawl once around the body.  The two men on the right hand side of the illustration have wrapped the fringed shawl in the typical manner giving the spiral effect.  Three of the figures have belted their garments.

The garments of the Mesopotamians would be considered draped as well as composite.  The fringed shawl is a draped garment, but the kandys had to have some cutting and sewing to achieve the small sleeve and tubular effect.

Figure 18.  In this relief of a court scene, all the men are wearing soft hats.  These hats are gradually stiffened and evolve into the fez worn in many contemporary Mid-Eastern cultures.

Figure 19.  Idi-ilum, Governor of Lagash, 2350 BCE.  A statue with a missing head.  If you look closely you will note the curls of the beard on the chest of the figure.  This is a man in a kandys and fringed shawl.  The fringes have been tied into knots, so what we see are small circle knots along the edges of the shawl.

Note the abundance of facial hair in Figure 20. Facial hair of male very important in identification.  Highly curled, fastidious in control, immaculate in design.  Men obtained these curls through curling irons and spent hours making sure of the design and placement of each hair.  There is some status associated with the hair and the beard.  False hair pieces were not unknown.

Figure 20A is from a nineteenth century illustrated The History of Costume, 1861-1880 by Braun & Schneider.  It shows clarity of the fringed shawl and kandys.

Even the warrior helmet is fashioned with the curls, a fillet holding them in place, and the ear of the warrior.

Figure 24 is a very clear example of the attention paid to the curls in the hair and beard.  It is also a good example of the evolution of the fez, the masculine nature of the face, and the jewelry used by men.

Figure 24A, a 19th century illustration of Assyrian clothing, depicts the short sleeved kandys (one in green and two in blue) and shortened version of the kandys on the figure on the left, the fringed shawl worn in two different ways on the men on the right, tightly curled hair on all figures, fillets around the head on the two right hand figures, a wide belt on one figure, high arm bracelets on the two right hand figures, a wrist bracelet on the dominant figure, sandals, and some fringes at the bottom on the kandys.

Figure24A (below)


Accessories

Both men and women used upper are bracelets of gold and other metals, earrings, embellished fillets, necklaces, and ankle bracelets.  The daisy motif was popular.    Note the horned hat with daisy motif background.  The six horns that almost meet in the center are important symbols.


Warriors

The military was an important part of this culture since it was paramount to have strong defenses in such a desirable land.  Generally the military wore their kandys shorter since they had to be active.  However, in Figure 26 the military personnel on the right side of the relief have long kandys and fringed shawls, while the men in the center and on the left side tend to have shorter kandys.

Figure 26.  Relief of Ashurbanipal in his Chariot, 7th century BCE

Chariots and horses were used frequently by the Mesopotamians.  Note the use of umbrellas to protect dignitaries from the sun.

Figure 28.  This illustration is typical of reliefs found and also illustrate how difficult it is to see the images (refer to Lecture 1).  The relief is showing the sack of the city of Hamanu by Ashurbanipal, 650 BCE.

Figure 29.  Soldiers pulling a boat, 721-705 BCE.  Note short garments for strenuous work.

They are probably wearing loin cloths, a small diaper like garment worn around waist and through the crotch.  Loin cloths were the first garments worn by men, but quickly gave way to more elaborate clothing.  They were still worn occasionally and some cultures embellished them.

Figure 30. It appears that in this drawing the less active warriors, archers, are wearing a long kandys, while the more active foot solders (on the ladder) are wearing a shorter kandys.

Figure 31.  Shorter garment of the soldiers, but still note the curled hair and beards.

In Figure 32 the illustration depicts three soldiers with different duties.  Note the long kandys is worn by the archer who does not use his legs as much as his arms.  The evidence of fringes are seen in all and the evidence of meticulously groomed and curled hair and beards.  Who would have time to do this in battle, we might ask.

Dragon of Marduk, ca 604-562 BCE. Mesopotamia.  The mythical Dragon of Marduk with scaly body, serpent’s head, viper’s horns, front feet of a feline, hind feet of a bird, and a scorpion’s tail, was sacred to the god Marduk, principal deity of Babylon.   The striding dragon was a portion of the decoration of one of the gates of the city of Babylon.  King Nebuchadnezzar, whose name appears in the Bible as the despoiler of Jerusalem, ornamented the monumental entrance gate dedicated to Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, and the processional street leading to it with scores of pacing glazed brick animals;  on the gate were alternating tiers of Marduk’s dragons and bulls of the weather god Adad;  along the street were the lions sacred to Ishtar.  All of this brilliant decoration was designed to create a ceremonial entrance for the king in religious procession on the most important day of the New Year’s Festival.  www.dia.org/collections/ancient/mesopotamia/31.25.html

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Assignment:  Make sure you post your discussion for the Forum within two weeks of the assignment.

“Discuss the zeitgeist of the Mesopotamia culture as associated with the clothing.”  Be sure to give examples and use appropriate terminology.

Reading: Tortora and Eubank, Chapter 2

Additional websites:

www.zyworld.com/assyrian/flying%20with%20bulls.htm

www.siue.edu/COSTUMES/COSTUME1_INDEX.HTML

As the Mesopotamian culture was known as one of the most important places, It became a place where war frequently broke out because other cultures wanted to take possession of their resources like soil. War also resulted in the passing of clothing through different cultures. One skill that the Mesopotamians had was their skill in the production of wool. With resources like wool and metals, no wonder why other cultures wanted to go to war because of their style.
The Assyrian female wore a Rhino and Pagne which was later altered into Kandy’s and Fringed shawl. Made out of wool, the women were covered up from shoulders to ankles; similar to the Assyrian male. Though Females rarely had a place in society, their emphasis was placed much more on their accessories. This also distinguished a sense of hierarchy. The more beautiful accessories, the more well off you were. Beauty and luxury were the two top priorities for females in the Assyrian culture.
The Assyrian male wears a pagne skirts similar to females except with no rhino. Facial hair is a must and is a symbol of status just like accessories are a symbol of wealth. Males were considered the warriors at battle. In battle, shorter kandy’s were worn for the more active male.
The culture of the Assyrian people was very male dominated. Therefore the males made most of the decisions. As far as wealth, it seemed like there was a rich and poor barrier based on what you wore and how you carried yourself.
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Evaluation of Costume Sources

The history of costume prior to the 18th century is a subject that is difficult to research due to the fact that there are very few primary sources (garments) that have survived.  Therefore, to understand the cut or silhouette, fabrication, and medthod of wearing a garment, costume historians must consult sources from the arts and the culture.  These sources include:  art work including paintings, sculptures,  frescos, crafts including pottery and tapestry, wall decorations, burial sites, fashion illustrations and fashion dolls, religious illustrations, and, of course, photographs in the 19th century.

Costume historians are limited by the conventions imposed by the artists who created the work and their cultural ethics, by the ravages of time that might have distort the images, and the limitations of the media itself.

The student needs to always consider the context in which the source was initiated and the context in which the garment was worn.  Clothing is a part of our culture and can tell much about the society in which it was worn.  Students would do well to question the sources, and make determinations based on as many facts as they can gather.  In studying the history of costume, you will become aware that all of the information the viewer might want to know is not  viewed on the surface.  The artist generally is communicating the “on the street” garment, not what is worn under the garment.  The artist generally does not concern him/herself with closures, with the typical fit, with the fabrication, with the occasion of wearing any specialty garments for the general culture.    Those questions take more research and would probably be good topics for your research paper.

  • Consider the following illustrations.  Costume can be controlled by the cannons and conventions that are strong in any particular culture, such as the Egyptian systematic method of drawing people.  They used very precise proportions and well as the same manner in depicting people in two-dimensional images:  side view of head and legs, front view of torso.  Sometimes this drawing convention does not give an accurate view of the clothing.  Compare the Egyptian slide to a fashion illustration dated circa 1840 where the fashion trend cannons of the day were to illustrate tiny waists and hands and very sloping shoulders.  In terms of the reality of the body, both are not realistic, yet as costume historians we need to gain an appreciation of the cannons of the culture we are studying and an image of what the garments might have looked like on the actual people.
  • The skill of the artist may be a factor.  Consider the carved images of the various Venue statues.  There is just a hint of decoration in the image, but if the skill of the artist was greater we would have more clues to the garments.  What is on the head of the Venus of Willendorf?  Is that curly hair? A net?  Basketry material?  What does the Kostenki Venus wear around the back?  Is that a sportsbra?  What marks are on the stomach and arms of the Venus of Hohle Fels?Do those marks represent clothing of some sort?  All of these statutes were found in cold climates.
  • Often the conventions in which the garments were drawn were unlike the conventions in which the garment was worn.  In the following slide a 19th century artist, with Victorian conventions of not displaying nudity, illustrated the costume of the Egyptians, who often bared their upper torsos in their attire.  Because nudity was against the norm of 19th century conventions, the 19th artist did not correctly portray the manner in which the Egyptian costume was worn. The student, therefore, must consider the conventions of the artist when studying the garments.
  • When a work of art is completed, there is no certainty it will withstand the rigors of time, elements, or various kinds of destruction.  Consider the following partial fresco from ancient Crete, almost 3500 years ago.  How can we determine the shape of the clothing areas that are missing?  Research can give the costume historian a good idea, but it is no longer a primary source.  The statues of the Greeks are Romans are seen today in while marble and we tend to forget that the garments on these statues had color at one point.  The fashion illustrations of the 19th century were often watercolors and the colors have now lost their intensity.
  • Many cultures were given to having preferred media for their decorative art forms.  The contemporary costume historian, in part, must rely on mosaics to study many of the costumes of the Byzantines, pottery to study many Greek costumes, wall reliefs to study costumes of the Assyrians and Incas.  These media do not relate accuracy in the details of the garment or textiles used.  See the following:  tapestry and Greek pottery

Note that several hundred years later, tapestries became highly popular due to a combination of increased artist skill and improved technology.  In these tapestries the garments area easier to analyze.

However, it is still a mystery as to how these 15th century men kept their stockings as tight as they are depicted.  What is reality?

The piece of Greek pottery below give an indication of an ionic chiton being draped on a female.  The suggestion of sheer fabric for the female is conveyed

The following 12th century statues show a very long and lean figure for both men and women.  We need to consider that the statues were also used as architecture decoration, so the reality of the costume might not be accurate.

  • Most of the time the supportive undergarments are missing and while historians can detect a ruffle at the bottom of a Roman stola, the manner in which it was held up remains a mystery.  We see very tight leg coverings on the men from the Middle Ages, but must question how were they held up and kept so tight.  (They did not have knitting machines.)
  • Artists often had different stereotypes which they played up.  For example, the devotional prayer books in the Byzantine period and medieval times were not supposed to be realistic.  Also the artist, in this case the clergy, was not necessarily a realistic artist so did not pay attention to costume detail.

Often the drawings or paintings were completed to give a sense of spirit to a time period rather than for accuracy of costume.  Many illustrations in story books use this technique (as below).

  • The purpose of the artist should be kept in mind as well.  Often they were depicting an emotional, business, or political concept rather than showing costume detail.  In the following relief it is difficult to see the Byzantine garment as the artist is depicting a mother and child holding each other.  Note the exaggerated long arms to portray the feelings of comfort and love.
  • The purposes of the art piece must be taken into consideration as well.  The following is the back of a deck of cards from the medieval period and we would expect no rich detail.  On the other hand, the prospective bride portrait has rich detail because the bride’s parents are trying to impress the prospective groom with her beauty and their status.  Also consider this illustration of the Spanish infantata (c. 17th C) and ask yourself if she walked around in this garment at all times.  This is a formal portrait and we would expect the garment was used for court occasions.
  • Dating is sometimes a problem since artists often painted the garment first and then would put a head on it years later.  Reynolds, the 18th Century English artist, hated fashion and refused to paint what was fashionable.

Another example of the artist using his/her own style can be seen Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” painted c. 1770.  This 18th century painting of a son of a rich London ironmonger is depicted in 17th century costume.  Gainsborough had long practiced his craft by copying Flemish paintings, so it is not surprising that he borrowed the costume and other styles from the 17th century Flemish artist, Anthony van Dyck.

  • Some artists may not adhere to the social norms and conventions or be in the midst of a convention change.  These two portraits were done approximately at the same time and illustrate the difference between formal and informal portraits.  The artists have two different points of view.  The detail on the costume varies as well.

One way in which media can become an outlet for questioning costume accuracy, and role of humans is through movies. Some movies are made to depict the historical time in which a great event occurs. King Arthur, the movie, is about the half-Roman, half- British legendary leader who commands a brave team of knights for the Roman empire. Guinevere, Queen to King Arthur, is known for her most famous love affair with Arthur’s chief knight, Sir Lancelot.
In the movie, Guinevere, Kiera Knightly, is depicted wearing an angelic, long gown with more of a recent style (Picture #1), but later on becomes a strong and brave woman figure fighting to her death for what she believes in (Picture #2). She wears dark leather fighting gear, holds a knife in her right hand, and has tattoos to represent her fearlessness.

#1

#2

In the actual legend of King Arthur, Guinevere was abducted. King Arthur and his knights had to save her from her abductors. As you can see in picture #3, she is wearing a long, angelic white dress or nightgown similar to picture #1. In picture #3 she is in a household or bedroom (Picture #3).

#3

Picture #4 is a painting of Guinevere looking like a damsel in distress, helpless and waiting to be rescued by her knight and shining armor.

#4

Comparing the actual history to the movie, not only were the clothes inaccurate, but the role of women was also inaccurate. Women at this time, I believe, were not allowed to fight. Women were made to stay at home and do the cooking and cleaning while men were to have been the brave and have a muscular type of body. This definitely shows a lot about how our history has evolved as far as the role that women play in today’s society. The women today are strong and powerful just like the men and can basically do whatever men can do if they wanted to.

Sources:
Picture #1http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2004/07/07/DDG987G6M11.DTL&o=1

Picture #2http://www.markadderley.net/arthur/movies/arthurian-movies.html

Picture #3http://www.sir-lancelot.co.uk/Guinevere-Lancelot.htm

Picture #4http://www.illusionsgallery.com/Rescue-of-Guinevere-Hatherell.html

For a better understanding of the extent of the Roman Empire and a comparison to other
empires you should visit http://www.Roman-empire.net/maps/map-empire.html The extent of
the Roman Empire was vast, especially considering the length of time it took to travel
three thousand years ago. What is amazine is that some of the roads and the aqueducts
the Romans built are still standing today.
The Romans are known as a nation of first agriculturists and then of lawmakers. The
roots of the Romans are from the Etruscans who farmed the Italian peninsula and built
cities. The mysterious Etruscans are thought to have migrated from Asia Minor towards
the end of the 9th century BCE. They brought with them the culture from Mesopotamia,
Egypt, and Crete. Etruria comprised the area between Rome and Florence that today is
called Tuscany. It was made up of loosely associated city-states. Her merchant marine
rivaled Greece and Carthage in the western Mediterranean by the 7th century BCE when
trade with the East caused a rapid cultural and economic expansion. The Etruscan
dynasty lasted in Rome until the southern Latins in 509 BCE conquered it.

The dress of the Etruscans was draped, loose, colorful, and comfortable. The Romans
adapted this concept into their own garments.
The Romans followed, basing their culture on farming, but developed into a nation of
lawmakers and conquerors. Through their conquests they accumulated many different
cultures and assimilated them into the Roman culture. Figure 1 shows the great extent of
the Roman Empire in 116 AD (or ACE).Their contribution to the history of law and order
was immense, but their role in the arts was more of a borrower and adapter than creator.
They were known to have central heating system, public baths, road maps, a calendar, the
coliseum, a democracy with a Senate, and a department store with 8 floors (the cheapest
items were on the top floor making it necessary for those wanting those items to walk up
seven flights.) While some of these items were known in other cultures, e.g., the
Egyptians had a calendar, note that it was the Romans that accumulated these and spread
them throughout their empire. It is interesting to note that when the Empire declined,
many of these developed innovations declined along with them. An example would be
the lavish baths for the Roman legions in Britian. When the Romans left, the Saxon
culture there did not use the baths and villas that the Romans left behind. Why might this
be the case?

The people themselves were grave, stern, steadfast, competitive, and ambitious. The men
seemed preoccupied with wealth and the conquest of new lands which may increase their
wealth. They were particularly fastidious about their dress. The women enjoyed
freedom, although they were not citizens. They were independent, clever, learned, and
generally had strong personalities. They could inherit property which seems to have lead
to extravagance in dress. The husband did not necessarily profit from the wife’s wealth
or inheritance. The women were proficient in the art of embroidery, a source of pride for
the Roman women. They used gold extensively in the Imperial period.
An important part of their culture was the public baths. The baths were places of
important social gatherings as well as cleaning, for the Romans were a very hygienic
people. Many important political and personal decisions took place at the baths. Almost
all Roman settlements from Egypt to England had a form of public bath. There is one
that still stands in Bath, England. It was buried over after the Romans left England an
only rediscovered in the past few centuries. See http://www.crystalinks.com/romebaths.html

There was a lot of entertainment in the Roman culture. As the Romans were competitive,
laws were passed to control the amount of lavishness that could take place during these
entertaining events. These were called sumptuary laws. These laws have been imposed
in many cultures (Chinese, Japanese, French, etc.) to curb or limit the amount of display
that a people of different social standings may exhibit. Some specific examples of the
Romans were: the amount of gold one could wear at any one time, the number of courses
one could serve at a dinner, the limitation of wearing the toga for only citizens, the width
of the clavi, the color of the clavi, etc. Sumptuary laws continued and were used in the
medieval periods to control the outward appearance of people of a lower status.

There is no doubt that the Romans saw themselves as the center of the world at that time.
The “Great Mother” was one of their ideals stemming from the tales of Romulus and
Remus. Slaves were common. Prior to the 2nd century BCE very few families had more
than one slave and did much of the manual labor themselves. However, by the time the
culture reached the first century ACE, very few families had less than one slave. Often
they didn’t even know their names. Slaves were basically treated well and many Romans
spurred them on to effort by giving them money so that they could buy their freedom.
Slavery was neither eternal nor intolerable and there were many laws for the humane
treatment of slaves.
Women’s Wear
The dress of the Roman women was more elaborate and dignified than that of the Greeks
even though the Romans borrowed heavily from the Greek aesthetics. The basic female
costume was the stolla (stola) and the palla. The stolla was a tunic covering the body
from the neck to the foot and was worn by the patricians only. (It was like the Greek
chiton.) See Figure 8, the reddish garment. The stolla could be pinned at the shoulders
with fibulae, it could be sewn, and it could have sleeves. Tortora and Eubank maintain
that a tunic was often worn under the stolla, called an undertunic. Some of the statues
seem to have a flounce showing at the bottom hem. This might be attached to the
undertunic, but there is no evidence of this.

The garment worn over the stolla is called the palla (see figure 6, the blue fabric), which
is like the Greek himation. It is a semi-circular piece of fabric giving an overall more
oval shape than the himation. The Roman women might wear a zona (band worn under
the breasts or at the hips) for support.

The stolla is
very sheer and full with sleeves. She has draped the palla around her, but the veil on her
head may be a pallidumentum, a sheer separate garment worn over the head. Note the
very tight hair curls. Also note the fuller hem, as if a flounce has been added. This could
be the institia.
Hair styles:
The women had simple hair in the Republic, however as time went on they became more
and more elaborate. Messalina had a variety of wigs to disguise her nocturnal
adventures, but she usually returned without them and someone would return the wig the
following day. Often statues were made so that the subject (if still alive) could change
the hair pieces. Yellow wigs were obligatory for prostitutes to wear, however, after this
law was passed, yellow became the fashion when luxury was the vogue. The Romans
actually purchased yellow hair from the northern Gauls. Forehead curls were popular
around 100 BCE.

The Empire favored elaborate
hair styles for women. Figure 10 shows highly curled hairdos often with a support or
ampex (diadem-like hairband). The fillet was often worn, but became very elaborate so
that we hardly recognize it as the fillet. The elaborate nature of their curls (made possible
by curling irons), reminds me of the tight curled Assyrian beards and hair. The style,
however, is quite different.
Men’s hairstyles were simple with a natural look to their short hair. See Figure 11.
Children, too, wore their hair natural but generally it was longer.

The lacerna was often colored and might have much
luxury displayed on it. Worn by the better classes, it is not a rigid as the sagum (see
military section in this lecture)..
Both the Roman men and women used a lot of make-up. They used crocodile excrement,
sometimes bread and the milk of asses for a fresh complexion. They had false hair, false
teeth, hairpins, padded coiffures, beauty patches, and perfumes. Their perfumes were
applied not only to the body, but to all possessions. Only patricians were allowed to wear
white make-up, but this law was soon ignored.
Men’s Costume
The most notorious of the Roman male garment is the toga. This very large (6 yards by
2.5 yards) was cut into an oval shape, folded in half and then draped around the body in
an intricate manner. It was the earliest distinctive racial garment, a necessary article in
the wardrobe and a badge of Roman citizenship. The privilege of wearing it, its color and
decoration were prescribed by law as well as by custom.
In the early times the toga was worn by both men and women, then, at the beginning of
Imperial Rome the women discarded it (except those of a disreputable sort).

In the Republic all togas were white, but later on they became quite colorful. The
plebeians were forbidden to wear white. Actually white was difficult to clean and had to
be bleached to get the pure whiteness which was a status for men and women.

The clavi (a band or woven stripe) sewn into the tunic or toga which indicated ones rank.
It developed from the Etruscan garments, see Figure 33. The use of clavi was
predominant during the Republic and tended to disappear during the Empire, however,
the Byzantines tended to revive the aesthetics of the clavi. There were rules governing
the clavi as all freeborn could wear a 3/8 inch side clavi, but those with money often
bribed officials for a wider clavi. The latus clavus was the widest (3-4 inches) and was a
symbol or the highest rank.

In reality the Romans borrowed heavily from the Greeks and often used their statues as
their own. The oval appearance of this illustration makes it appear more Roman.
Not only was the width of the clavi important, but the color as well: green was for the
medical profession, purple for generals, emperors, blue for philosophy, etc. In addition,
the togas had many different names, see below. It is interesting to note that children
could wear the toga the rank and status of their parents, but when they turned of age they
had to put on the toga pura and gain their own status.
• toga virilis also called toga pura: unadorned toga in the off-white color of the undyed
wool that was worn by adult male citizens
• toga praetexta: off-white toga with a broad purple border shown in the right-hand
drawing. The only adults allowed to wear this toga were curule magistrates (curule aedile
and above).
• toga pulla: toga made of dark-colored wool worn during periods of mourning
• toga candida: artificially whitened toga worn by candidates for political office
• toga picta: purple toga embroidered with gold thread worn by a victorious general
during a triumphal parade and later adopted by emperors for state occasions. . A variant
of this costume was the toga purpura, an all-purple toga worn by the early kings and
possibly adopted by some emperors
(above from http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/clothing.html

You might note that the toga is a very inconvenient garment. It is heavier than the
himation, more complicated, and larger. There were many ways of draping it and each of
the created folds had a name and was weighted with pellets. Sinus is a pocket formed by
the draping of a toga.
Because of the complications associated with the toga many men wore a synthesis or
dinner garment. It was simpler and less cumbersome, but still was draped.

The synthesis is a garment worn less often than the toga and usually considered a dinner
dress. Ordinarily it was worn only in the house except during the 5 days of Saturnalia
(mid-winter celebration). It was for comfort since it utilized less material. Its shape
remains a mystery, but most likely it is rectangular. Generally it was worn by the
wealthy class for it was luxurious and often given as a gift. Nero violated the use of
wearing the synthesis for special occasions and wore one all the time.
They often just wore a tunic. Although this garment was generally worn under a toga, for
practical purposes the tunic by itself was most functional.

Even when wearing a simple garment, the Romans still cared about displaying their rank,
and did so through clavi on the tunic.
Textiles:
The women took great pride in the art of embroidery. The materials used were wool and
linen as the base fabric upon which some silk, wool, and linen embroidery threads were
used. They used gold embroidery threads extensively in the imperial periods. Mainly the
embroidery was done at the edges of the garment in much the same way as the Greeks.
Early tunics and togas were woolen. Women used linen, especially as a tunic or
undergarment. Even though the wool was very sheer, gradually silk was used when more
and more trading went on with the Eastern countries. It is difficult for us to know which
garments were made from silk, but the law books do give some hints. In 16 ACE it was
forbidden for the men to wear silk garments. We would assume that this was a short
lived law, but it does indicate that the Roman Empire did use silk.
Jewelry and accessories
Jewelry was really introduced by the captured Greek goldsmiths. You can expect to fine
fibulae the Roman jewelry as well as in Greek. However, the use of jewelry was
widespread in Roman culture and became excessive. Some decadent senators wore 6
rings on each finger, some for summer and some for winter. However, as in any society,
there were many senators who objected to this practice and set up sumptuary laws
forbidding such decadency. These laws were often ignored.
Women wore earrings, jewelry in their hair, precious and semi precious stones. Rings
were popular: key rings, poison rings (the bezel was made of soft yellow gold so that the
wearer could bite through this and drink the poison as did Hannibul), amber rings that
would cure a goiter (they were best if they held an imprisoned fly, but were more
expensive than a slave), coral rings were a remedy for skin diseases, insignia rings, and
an l engagement ring worn on the finger that held a special nerve leading directly to the
heart. Figure 25 shows some of the jewelry.

A small round box or amulet called a bulla was hung around young boys’ necks until
they reached the age of 15. It was an insignia of juvenility.
The Romans also used long beads, fans, umbrellas, jeweled sticks, carried glass and
amber balls.
They wore solea (sandals) on their feet. See Figure 15. These were generally made of
leather and worn inside the house. Bare feet were typical. The togati was a short boot
with straps over the instep and worn by both men and women. The Romans had
knowledge of construction, decoration of shoes and boots (buskins). The women wore
mostly sandals. A bootmaker and tailor had a most honorable profession.
Military
The Equestrian Order was the moneyed class since soldiers were required to provide their
own horses, thus they wore the wide clavi. The soldiers were clean shaven (perhaps for
cleanliness), and wore corselets with kilts usually made of leather and metal.

Soldiers. If you look closely at the
soldier on the left side you will note he has a sagum, a military cloak, draped over one
shoulder. Often it was red. It was also warm and inexpensive. Note also that the
illustrator put a weight at the tip of the sagum indicating that they were concerned with
the drape of this garment. The soldier on the right is holding a standard which served as
a means to identify the different military divisions.

Decline
Rome did not fall, it gradually declined. For generations the Germanic peoples had
pressed on the northern frontiers. In the 3rd century ACE Roman had immense wealth
and degrading poverty, gross ignorance in high places, and little commitment to ideals.
By the 4th century there was staggering inflation which Diocletian and Constantine tried
to reform. The aristocracy returned to the land in order to get away from the crowd and
stench of the city. This isolation foreshadowed the rural life of feudal society.

The man on the left is wearing a long tunic, a garment which is not often seen, but
develops into the Byzantine dalmatica. The two men in the middle are farmers or
shepherds and wear commoner clothing. The man on the right is wearing a paenula
which is a traveling cloak shaped something like a poncho. It has a hole for the neck; this
one has a hood and could be made of cloth or light weight leather. Because it had a
curved shape over the shoulders it tended to restrict the arms.

Movies: Gladiator (not good for female clothing, but good for men’s wear)
I, Claudius
Rome

Discussion:

There is still evidence today of women wearing Roman dress. Such evidence like the Stola are being showcased on the red carpet. Jaslene Gonzalez, Megan Fox, Katie Holmes, and Kiera Knightly are some celebrities who have displayed the Roman clothing but have altering the clothing to give it a more modern day twist but leaving the some key elements to Roman fashion style. The altered Roman clothing has key elements like the smooth rhythm of the drapery, the asymetrical balance of the one shoulder toga, and the white color of the garment representing the importance of rank in Rome.

Another connection of of modern day Roman clothing would be the footwear. Though Romans sometimes did not wear sandalis or solea at all. Places like UrbanOutfitters sell the modern day Roman Sandal but again with a modern day twist. Mostly all are made of leather and display many straps and at different lengths reaching to as high as the knee.

Yes, the Romans were heavily influenced by the Greeks. Some similarities between the two are Palla and the himation of womens garments. The difference is probably the type of fabric, but both pieces are worn over the main piece of garment. This particular garment is similar to the modern day shawl women use for a wrap along side the body as well except shorter and light weight fabric.

Men in today’s society do not wear togas, but a circle scarf in modern day times represents some kind of resemblance to the clavi that is usually sewed on a tunic or toga and would represent that rank a person is in society. Though it is unsure if the picture of a Roman man is accurate, I think the thinkness or thinness of the clavi is similar to the circle just by itself and not attatched to the tunc or toga.

I wonder if the clothing of the Statue of Liberty is inspired from the Romans or the Greek clothing?