1902 Encyclopedia > Costume > Costume (Part 1)

(Part 1)

COSTUME, as defined for the present inquiry, is limited to personal attire, but with the exclusion of armour, which has been dealt with under a separate heading.


The inquiry begins with Greek costume, as to which, so far as it consists of dress, the general remark may be made that its history is for the most part free from what is known as the changes of fashion, for this reason that the Greeks did not attempt to reconcile the two opposite principles of covering and at the same time displaying the figure, that is to say, of cutting the dress to fit the body. There are changes which will be noted between the dress work after 450 B.C. and that of an earlier date, when the material was heavier and the figure more closely enveloped, suggesting a difference of climate in these different periods.

Female Dress.—The chief and indispensable article of female dress was the chiton, consisting of one piece of material sewed together in the form of a sack open at top and bottom, in height reaching from the neck to the feet of the wearer, and in width equal to that of the extended arms. Within this stands the figure, and first it is girt round under the breasts, to keep it from falling, by a girdle (zoster). Next, the upper edges are fastened together on the top of the shoulders by a brooch (fibula), and the arms are either left bare, pressing down into folds at each side the masses of material, or these masses may be gathered round each arm, and fastened down the outside with buttons and loops so as to form sleeves (chiton cheiridotos). The chiton could be left open down one side for convenience in dancing, and was then called chiton schistos. To secure greater warmth on the breast and shoulders the chiton was made long enough to be doubled back from the top, and this part reaching to the waist was called the diploïs or diploïdion. It could be also made of a separate piece. Underneath the chiton was worn a band of cloth (taenia) to support the breasts, and in addition to this a cord was sometimes crossed round the breast the chiton to assists either in supporting them or in bringing out their form. Round the loins was worn, perhaps not always, either, a short petticoat of thick woolen stuff of a sort of bathing drawers, _____, such as acrobats wore. So far we have mentioned all the dress that was necessary for indoor wear, which, also, since it had to be got into, was called _____, as opposed to other parts of dress, which were thrown round the body, and were called _____. To the latter class belongs the next article of importance in female dress, the himation, a garment worn also by men. While the chiton was generally made of linen, of which there was a variety of fabrics (e.g., those of Amorgos, Tarentum, Sicily, Crete, and Phrygia), or of cannabals (made from hemp), or by byssos (flax from India and Egypt chiefly), or of silk (serica), the himation consisted of woolen stuff, and was worn like a plaid. It was first thrown over the left shoulder, leaving the short end to hang down in front ; the long end was then gathered round the back with the right hand, brought under the right arms, and across the body in front, and finally held in this position by being thrown over the left fore arm. Or instead of being passed under the right arm it could be brought over the right shoulder so as to envelop the right arm, then carried closely round the neck, and finally thrown over the left shoulder with an end hanging down behind ; or again, it could be still further drawn up over the back of the head of form a hood. As regards colours, it will be found, when we have taken away black for the use of mourners (_____ ), that the others were employed in a great variety of combinations. An important point was always to have a deep border round the foot of the chiton, either of some uniform colour which suggests solidity and heaviness, so as to weigh down the dress, or of some pattern which would suggest strength to prevent the dress from being torn when striding. Strong contrasts of colours were used, such as a white chiton with a pink himation, or a white chiton with a broad blue border round the foot. Besides embroidery, another kind of ornament consisted of designs beaten out in thin gold and stitched on the dress. Great numbers of those have been found in tombs where the dress itself has entirely perished. Greek vases and sculptures represent Amazons and Persians wearing trousers (anaxyrides), but this article of dress did not come into use among the Greeks themselves.

While the chiton and himation, as above described, continued to be the standard dress from about 450 B.C. onwards, it is the rule to find in figures of an earlier date the himation worn as in fig. 3, where it has more of the appearance of a chiton, having like it a diploïdion, and enveloping the greater part of the figure, so that the chiton proper appears as distinctly an under garment. It is a himation of this kind that the archaic figure of Athena wears, and since we know that the name for this garment of hers was peplos, it would perhaps be more correct to use this word instead of himation for the upper garment of the earlier period. Among the reasons also for this is the negative evidence that the world peplos does not occur in the inventory of female dresses on an inscription from Athens in the British Museum, in which the latest date given 335 B.C. Pollux, it is true (vii. 47), cites it in his list of names for dresses worn by women.

Returning to the dress after 450 B.C., find that the chiton could be tucked up under the girdle till the skirt reached only to the knees, as in the figures of Artemis. A short linen chiton, reaching half way down the thighs, was called kypassis. The diploïdion, when once made of a separate piece, could have the form of a sleeveless jacket reaching nearly to the knees. A diploïdion worn only in front was called a hemidiploïdion. A chiton worn to leave one breast bare was called heteromaschalos ; worn without a girdle, as by priests and old women, it was orthostadios, or perhaps zoma. The ampechonion appears to have been a small shawl. The kinmbarikon was a transparent under-chiton. The following names of dresses are still undetermined—kandys or kandyke, epomis, pharos, phaenole, xystis (xyston), heanos, mandye, ephestrides, and amphiestrides.

As regards the covering of the head, that was perhaps most generally accomplished by drawing the himation up over the back of the head like a hood ;or, instead of this, a separate piece of cloth was made to perform this service, the end of it falling under the himation. This was the kalptra, or veil. A cap merely intended to cover in the hair and hold it together was called kekryphalos. When hats were worn they were of circular shape, and either of some stiff material, as the Thessalian or Baeotian hat (_____), observed in terra-cottas from Tanagra in Baeotia and in Pompeian paintings, or of pliant material which could be bent down at the sides like the petasus worn by Atlanta. Similar to this seems to have been the kausia or Macedeonian hat. The kyrbasia, or kidaris, was a high pointed hat of Persian origin, as was also the tiara, which served the double purpose of an ornament and a covering for the head. When the object was only to hold up the hair from the neck, the sphendome was used, which, as its name implies was in the form of a sling ; but in this case it was called more particularly opistho-sphendone, as a distinction from the sphendone when worn in the front of the head. The head ornaments include the diadema, a narrow band bound round the hair a little way back from the brow and temples, and fastened in the knot of the hair behind ; the ampyx, a variety of the diadem ; the stephane, a crown worn over forehead, its highest point being in the centre, and narrowing at each side into a thin band which is tied at the back of the head. Different from this is the stephanos, which is a crown of the same breadth and design all round, as on the coins of Argos with the head of Hera, who is expressly said by Pausanias to wear a stephanos. This word is also employed for crowns of laurel, olive, or other plant, when the form would be the same all round the head. Crown made of wicker-work (poloi kalathoi) were also worn (see Gerhard, Antike Bildwerke, pls. 303–305). When the hair, as was most usual, was gathered back from the temples and fastened in a knot behind, hair pins were required, and these were mostly of bone or ivory, mounted with gold or plain. So also when the hair was tied in a large knot above the forehead, as in the case of Artemis, or of Apollo as leader of the Muses. The early Athenians wore their hair so, with a pin representing a grasshopper (_____), in allusion to their claim of having originally sprung from the soil (Thucyd. i. 6). Whether this knot was the krobylos is not determined. In archaic figures the hair is most frequently arranged over the brow temples in parallel rows of small curls which must have been kept in their places by artificial means, probably by small spirals of gold wire, such as are found in early Etruscan tombs lying near the head of the skeleton. Ear-rings (_____, _____) of gold, silver , or bronze plaited with gold, and frequently ornamented with pearls, precious stones, or enamel, were worn attached to the lobes of the ear. For necklaces (_____) bracelets (_____), brooches (_____), and finger-rings (_____ or _____) the same variety and preciousness of material was employed. The gold used was always very thin ; the intrinsic value, for example, of the famous Milo necklace in the British Museum is very slight, while the extraordinary amount of skilled workmanship in it would represent a very high value in labour. This is the rule in the best period of Greek art, that the jewellery is of value according to its workmanship ; but in later times preciousness of material determined the value. In the earliest jewellery, amber is conspicuous, alternating with pale gold or electrum. For the feet the sandal (_____, _____) was the usual water ; in exceptional cases, as for the bath, shoes, and for hunting, high boots were worn. The hunting boot was laced up the front, and reached to the calves. Gloves (cheirides) were worn by the Persians, but apparently never by the Greeks unless to protect the hands when working (Odyssey, xxiv. 230).

Male dress.—Fig. 4 represent the dress of a Greek citizen, such as it appears, for example, on the frieze of the Parthenon. It consists of nothing more than a himation such as that already described for women, but worn differently ; and from the simplicity of this attire it may be seen in how ridiculously awkward a position Blepyrus was placed by his wife’s having carried off his himation and shoes (Aristoph., Eccles., 310 sqq.) But underneath the himation was sometimes also a short linen chiton similar to that worn by armed men under their armour ; and with this chiton on, the himation could be laid aside on occasion. Workmen of all kinds wore only a short chiton girt round the waist, and let loose form the right shoulder to leave the arm free. In this case the material varied according to the necessary exposure to cold,—a fisherman, for example, having a chiton of hide, as had also slaves ; but the slaves’s chiton was more like a jacket with slaves reaching to the wrist, and corresponding to the _____ as defined by Pollux (vii. 70), who mentions further the _____ and _____ as garments of hide worn by peasants in the form of mantles. The same class of persons wore at other times the _____, a mantle of woolen stuff with border of sheepskin. But among the citizen class where the himation, as in fig. 4, was the proper dress for a man of mature years, younger men and youths appear to have worn it only as a sort undress to wrap round them when heated in the palaestra or at the bath. In public appearances they wore a linen chiton girt at the waist, and reaching half-way down the thighs, and on their shoulders a purple chlamys of woolen stuff fastened with a brooch on the right shoulder as in fig. 5. The chlamys was properly a military mantle, and is said to have been introduced from Macedonia, as was also the kausia, worn along with it by Athenian youth, a round that hat with flat pliant brim resembling the petasus of Hermes. In winter a mantle of thick stuff, the chlaena, was sometimes worn, while in summer the himation could be replaced by the thin linen chlanis. For official or priestly dignity an ungirt chiton reaching to the feet (chiton orthostadios) was worn. Sandals, shoes, or high boots were used as occasion required. The citizen of mature years wore no covering for the head. That was confined to youth, workmen, and slaves. His hair was cut short on the top, and lay on the head without parting. At the sides and round the neck it was allowed to fall a short way. His beard was of moderate size. Before Alexander’s time only the Spartans shaved the upper lip, but after that shaving became more general. Except a finger ring, a brooch to fasten the chlamys, or on occasion a wreath, the citizens usually wore no ornaments. While with this class there was no limit to the display of limbs, it was on the other had the object of the slave’s dress to conceal the limbs as far as possible, and for this purpose he wore, besides the jacket with long sleeves already noticed, closefitting hose reaching to the ankles. For his head he had, like fisherman and other workmen, a pointed cap (pilos).

The constancy to one fashion observed in the dress of the Greeks is not remarkable that the fashions with which they were familiar in other nations must have shared in their minds the association with servitude and lower civilization which attached to these nations. Yet if it is true they entered Greece from the north, and had previously permanent settlements in the that region, it is curious that they did not retain in their costume some evidence of the colder climate in which they had lived, unless indeed, the hose relegated to slaves furnish such evidence. This same difficulty occurs with regards to the Etruscans, whose dress is peculiarly the natural one for an Oriental climate ; and it is the more remarkable in their case since the cold of the north of Italy would, it might be supposed, have induced them to retain part of the dress peculiar to the north, had they, as is argued, been previously settled there.


The female dress of the Etruscans consisted, like that of the Greeks, in (1) a chiton poderes, reaching to the feet, and girt at the waist ;(2) a himation, worn in the fashion of a shawl, as occasionally on early Greek figures, or as a plaid ; (3) a hat (tutulus) rising to a high point ; and (4) pointed shoes. The chiton, with diploïdion on the breast, which is so conspicuous in Greek art after 450 B.C., does not so far as we know occur in pure Etruscan representations of dress ; nor is the himation found wrapped round the body as in Greek figures of this period (see fig. 2 above). It seems to have been much narrower as used by the Etruscans, and more like a shepherd’s plaid. Instead of a himation a close-fitting jacket of thick stuff is worn by an archaic Etruscan female figure in the British Museum, fig. 6. The pointed hat (tutulus) resembles the Persian, kidaris, and from its Oriental appearance has been cited as a survival of part of the national dress from the time when the Etruscans inhabited Lydia. On a celebrated terracotta sarcophagus in the British Museum the female figure reclining on the lid wears a Greek chiton of a thin white material, with short sleeves fastened on the outside of the arm, by means of buttons and loops ; a himation of dark purple thick stuff is wrapped round her hips and legs ; on her feet are sandals consisting of a sole apparently of leather, and attached to the foot and leg with leather straps ; under the straps are thin socks which do not cover the toes ; she wears a necklace of heavy pendants ; her ears are pierced for ear-rings ; her hair is partly gathered together with a ribbon at the roots behind, and partly hangs in long tresses before and behind ; a flat diadem is bound round her head a little way back from the brow and temples. Purple, pale green, and white, richly embroidered, are favourite colours in the dresses represented on the painted tombs.

No less essentially identical with the Greek are the representations of male dress on works of Etruscan art dating from the period of national independence. The chief article of male dress was called the tebenna. On the other hand there are the statements of ancient writers that the toga praetexta, with its purple border (_____), as worn by Roman magistrates and priests, had been derived from the Etruscans (Pliny, N. H., ix. 63, praetextae apud Etruscos originem invenere) ; and the Roman toga, though placed round the body much in the same way as the Greek himation, yet differed from it in shape so far that, while the latter was an oblong, the toga was a circular piece of stuff (toga rotunda), of which a large segment was doubled back so as to reduce the whole to little more than a semicircle. By this means a greater profusion of folds was obtained, and this at first sight is the characteristic difference between the Greek and Roman male dress. But though the toga, worn as it was by the Romans, does not occur in early Etruscan art, there is sufficient likeness between it and the tebenna which does occur, to justify the statement of the Roman toga being derived from the earlier costume of the Etruscans. It would have been equally, perhaps more, correct to have traced it to a Greek origin, the tebenna having been worn in Argos and Arcadia (Pollux, vii. 61) apparently from early times. Under the tebenna, or toga, which was necessary only for public appearance, the Etruscans wore a short tunic similar to the Greek chiton. For workmen and others of inferior occupation this appears to have been the only dress. Youths, when engaged in horsemanship and other exercises, wore a chlamys round the shoulders, just as the youths similarly engaged on the Parthenon frieze. But the Etruscan chlamys, again, is semicircular in cut, and was fastened on the breast by buttons and a loop, or tied in a knot, whereas the Greek chlamys was oblong and fastened on the shoulder by a brooch (perone). On public or festal occasions the Etruscan noble wore, besides the tebenna, a bulla, or necklace of bullae, and a wreth, corona Etrusca. The bulla was a circular gold locket containing a charm of some kind against evil. On the later sarcophagi the male figures wear not only a wreath, or corona proper, but also a garland of flowers hung round the neck. The Roman manner of wearing occasionally the toga, with the end thrown over the left shoulder, and wrapped round the waist (Gabino cinctu), was derived, it was said, from Etruria. The upper fold of the tebenna could be drawn up over the head if needed. As a separate male head-dress there was the galerus, a hat of leather, said to have been worn by the Lucumos in early times, or the apex, a pointed hat corresponding to the tutulus worn by females. The fashion of shoes worn by Roman senators was saids to have been derived from Etruria. Etruscan shoes were prized both in Greece and in Rome.


Male dress.—Fig. 7 represents the full Roman dress of tunica and toga, the former being visible only on the right shoulder and breast. The toga as here worn is, when spread our, a nearly elliptical piece of cloth, its greatest length being three times the height of the person who wears it, and its greatest breadth equal to at least twice the height of the wearer. It is, therefore, correctly called toga rotunda. The first step is to double back a segment of this ellipse so that it many nearly resemble a semicircle, and thus also justify the other definition of the toga as semicircular (_____). With the long straight edge so obtained, and with the smaller segment on the outside, the toga is thrown over the left shoulder, one end hanging down in front and over the left arm to the ground. The long end is then gathered round the back with the right hand, brought under the right arm and across the body and finally again over the left shoulder so that it may hang down the back some distance. The segment which was doubled back may be drawn over the back of the head like a veil, or, more generally is, drawn up as far as the neck and round the right shoulder, from which it forms a sweep in front of the body resembling the curve of a bay, whence it is called the sinus. The end, at first allowed to fall down in front, is drawn up a little and hangs over the edge, which passed round the waist in front. This is perhaps what is called the umbo. Instead of the loose end of the toga being thrown over the left shoulder, as here, it was sometimes carried round under the left arm and tied tightly reound the waist. This was called the cinctus Gabinus, and from having been once. It appears, a common fashion of citizens when engaged in war, was retained as the official form in certain ceremonies arising out of war, as at the opening of the temple of Janus. The toga was of a thin woolen stuff, and as to colour was always whit for the ordinary burgesses. A white toga with a purple border (toga praetexta) was worn as a distinction by those holding public offices, entitling them to the curule chair and the fasces, by the great colleges of priest (Flamen Dialis, Pontifices, Augurs, Septemviri, Quindecimviri, and Arvales), but in this case only during the act of performing their offices, and by boys up to their sixteenth year, when they assumed the toga virilis. The tribunes and aediles of the plebs and the quaestors were denied the right to the praetexta. A purple toga (toga prupurea) was always the mark of high office and as such was worn by the magistrates of republican times, though not except on public occasions, as well as embroidered with gold (toga picta), and it could only be worn with an under-dress of the same colour (tunica palmate). The praetexta, on the other hand, with its purple border, could only be worn along with a white tunic under it with a purple stripe (clavus). The praetexta was laid aside when the wearer retired from office, but the clavus, or purple stripe on the tunic, was retained, and became in consequence the distinguishing mark of the senatorial order.

The tunica corresponds exactly to the Greek chiton, reaching, like it, half way down the thigh, and being girt round the waist, but with the apparent difference that the Greeks rarely brought the stuff pressed down by both arms up round the arms so as to form sleeves down to the elbows, as did the Roman frequently. Further, it was a custom of the Romans to wear two tunics,—Augustus is said to have worn four. The one next the skin was known as the subucula, and the other as the supparus, or intusium. Only the latter had sleeves (tunica manicata), and over it passed the girdle (cincture). The tunic of ht senatorial order had, as has been said, broad purple stripe, latus clavus, woven into it down the front, whence it was called tunica laticlavia. That of the knightly order had two narrow purple stripes and was known as tunica angusticlavia. Tunics with two narrow stripes, one passing over each shoulder before and behind, are seen on Roman bronze statuettes of boys represented acting as Camilli at sacrifices. The tunic was usually of linen, just as the toga was of wool, and the national colour for ordinary purposes was white. Poor persons were doubtless content with the natural colour of the linen or wool, and when in mourning the higher classes wore a dark-coloured toga (toga palla or sordida), though this was not always the rule.

More convenient than the toga, but retaining a general likeness to it, was the pallium, an adaptation of the Greek himation. Among other subsitutes for the toga were (1) the trabea, which formed the official dress of the Augurs and Salii, resembling in shape the Etruscan tebenna, and being purple in colour ; (2) paludanmentum, an adaptation of the Greek chlamys, worn by the emperor as head of the army, purple in colour, though with was also allowed, (3) sagum, or sagulum, similar to the last, but worn only by soldiers ; it differs from the chlamys in having the corners rounded off so as to be nearly circular when folded out ; (4) paenula, worn in rainy weather to cover the dress, and made of thick flaxen material (gausape) or leather, with or without a hood, and formed of an elliptical piece of stuff with a round hole in the middle for the head to pass through ; (5) lacerna, a sort of chlamys of expensive material and colours, worn in the theatre or circus in presence of the emperor. As regards covering for the head there was the hood of the paenula in rough in rough weather (cucullus or cucullio), or the toga could be drawn up over the head, or there was a separate article—the recinium—in the form of a veil, as worn by the Arval Brothers Workmen and others wore hats or caps corresponding to the Greek pilus (pileus) and petasus. As an ornament for the head the diadem was only occasionally used till the time of Constantine. It was declined by Caesar. After Caracalla the most usual mark of an emperor was a crown or radii. The heavy garments worn out of doors, or officially, were replaced at dinner by vestes caenatoriae of thin material. Trousers (braccae) were not worn till after the Parthian and Celtic wars, and even then only by soldiers who were exposed to northern climates. The legs were protected by flat bands (fasciae) laced them up to the knees. On the feet senators wore shoes of red leather (mulleus, calceus senatorius), ornamented with knobs of ivory or brass, and having a high sole. The patrician order were shoes of black leather (calceus partricius), ornamented with an ivory crescent, and hence called lunula. For unofficial occasions, and for persons not belonging to these orders where the sandals (soleae). The compagus, said to have been introduced from Etruria by Romulus, appears to have been a high hunting boot laced up the front, while the caliga appears to have been a sort of shoe. For personal ornament finger-rings of great variety in the material and design were worn, sometimes to the extent of one or more on each finger, many persons possessing small cabinets of them. But at first the Roman citizen wore only an iron signet ring. A gold ring was introduced for persons sent on foreign embassies, but by degrees the jus annuli aurei was extended to all classes of citizens. In the case of baldness, a wig (capillanmentum) was allowed to men as well as woman during the empire. Till 290 B.C. it was the custom of men to let the hair and beard grow long. From that time shaving and short hair were the fashion, till under Hadrian, when long beards were again grown.

Female Dress.—The proximity of wealthy Greek towns in the south of Italy, and the extensive intercourse between the Romans and Greece and the East even in republican times, offered tempting facilities to Roman ladies for the supply of dress, and the result is that in artistic representations their dress does not differ in any important particulars from that of the Greeks as already described. Still the names for the main articles of dress remain Roman, from which it may be inferred that the difference between the original Roman and the imported Greek dress were not essential as regards shape. Next the skin was worn the tunica interior (intusium or interula), loose and without sleeves. Under the breast passed the mamillare or strophium. Then came the tunica proper generally called stola, girt at the waist, and with sleeves fastened down the arms as in the chiton. Over this was thrown for out-door wear the palla, or plaid, identical with the Greek himation. A over the back of the head (flammeum or ricinium) was the mark of a well-to-do matron. In rainy weather a hood like the Etrucan tutulus was worn To cover or hold up the hair, nets were used (mitra calantica, calvatica), but this simple article was far from common among the Roman ladies, whose chief characteristic in works of art is the elaborateness of their manner of braiding and twining the hair. After the Germanic wars a blond colour of hair became fashionable and to get the dyeing was resorted to. Generally the eyebrows and eyelashes were painted ; even the veins on temples were sometimes touched with delicate blue colour. The complexion was improved by various powders and washes. The teeth were carefully looked after, false ones making up the deficiency of nature. For the feet sandals, but by preference shoes, were made use of, generally of bright colours embroidered with gold or petals socks or stocking were confined to ceremonial appearances. Personal ornaments consisted of brooches (fibulae), bracelets (armillae), armlets (bracchialia), ear-rings (inaures), neckleaces (monilia), wreaths (coronae), and hair-pins (crinales). The tore (torques), or cord of good worn round the neck, was introduced from Gaul. A profusion of precious stones, and absence of skill or refinement in workmanship, distinguish Roman from Greek or Etruscan jewellery ; but in the character of the designs there is no real difference.


EGYPTIAN.—The ordinary male dress of the Egyptians, previous to about 1600 B.C., consisted of the a piece of linen cloth tied round the loins, with occasionally an upper garment or skin of a tiger or leopard thrown round the body. Though this continued even to much later times to be the dress of many, yet from the date just given distinctions of grade in society began to be marked by different ways of girding the loins, by greater size of the cloth, by twining it up round the body, and by wearing two or more loin cloths of different materials (Weiss, Kostümkunde, i. fig. 18, p. 33). The peculiarity Ethiopian dress was in the form of a sleeveless skirt with fringe round the lower edge, hanging loose except among poorer people, who wore it fitting close to the body. The rule in early time was to go barefooted except on occasions of ceremonial, when a sort of hose of network or greaves were worn. But under the new empire, after 1600 B.C., covering for both feet and head came into general use, the former consisting of sandals the latter of a cap made of leather, or of what some call cotton. Magistrates and others of rank wore from the earliest times sandals, and on the head a square of cloth folded diagonally with its three points gathered together at the back of the neck. The dress of a king was distinguished by a triangular projecting skirt (fig. 8) of leather and ornamented with gold. Over this he wore a chiton and a sash round the waist. On his head was a crown, pshent, which could be of three kinds, either that of Lower or of Upper Egypt, or a combination of these two, the latter having nearly the appearance of a mitre. A queen wore a long, thin, and richly ornamented chiton, with sash round waist and shoulders (fig. 90 A broad collar round neck and over breast was worn both by men and women who could afford it. The taste for ornament was general, men wearing armlets bracelets, anklets, and finger-rings, while women not only wore these articles in greater size, number, and richness, but also diadems, girdles, and bands of ornament round the breast and hips. The national dress, however, for poorer women was a simple close-fitting skirt reaching up to the breast and held up by straps over the shoulders. Woollen garments were worn chiefly by the poor, occasionally by the rich, or by priests, who were permitted an upper dress of this material Next the skin it was unlawful to wear it, nor could any one be buried in a dress of this material (Herod. ii. 81). A priest had to put off the woolen part of his dress before entering a temple. Cotton (_____, Herod. iii. 47) appears to have been manufactured in Egypt, but to have been less used than linen, or byblus, which was made from flax and cotton.

Assyrian.—In weaving, embroidery, and dyeing the Assyrians surpassed the other ancient nations, as is know from tradition and may be seen in their existing sculptures. While the characteristic dress of an ordinary Egyptian was a cloth girt round the loins, that of an Assyrian was a long skirt worn close round the body and with short sleeves. This was worn by all classes, and apparently by women as well as by men. Only royal and priestly persons were allowed an upper garments, at least during the early and flourishing period of Assyria. By the time of Herodotus a considerable variety of other dresses had been introduced among the different classes. The king’s dress, as will be seen in fig. 10, consists of a long chiton, or skirt, with short sleeves, and above this a mantle with heavy fringes passing over one shoulder, or in other cases over both shoulders. The dress of a priest consisted of an under-chiton, and over it a sort of long narrow plaid with frings wrapped spirally round the figure (Weiss, i. fig. 119, a, p. 202). Diadems variously ornamented were worn by officers of the court and by certain priests, as were also sandals. Hose did not come into use till a late period, and then chiefly as part of the military dress. Necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and finger-rings were worn in abundance by Assyrians of rank. (A.S.M.)


Of the dress generally worn in ancient Israel there are known to exist no original representations, nor is it possible to refer to nay minute descriptions of it either in the one great source of Jewish history or in the pages of Josephus. Certain paintings and sculptures, it is true, in Egypt and Assyria, have been supposed to represent captive Israelites ; but, even should this supposition be correct, in the figures thus represented there is nothing whatever which could be accepted as typical of national costume. On the other hand, while in certain details and accessories of the dress adopted by the different classes of the Israelite community, there doubtless arose from time to time both fresh modification and decided changes of fashion and adjustment, the general essential typical characteristic of dress may be assumed to have continued the same in Israel,—the same, also, as in no slight degrees continue to distinguish the Oriental costume still worn in Palestine. The garments, certainly, were loose and flowing ; the girdle was in universal use ; and a primary motive in the headgear was protection for the wearer from the hot sunshine of the East. The garments, in whatever manner or degree they may have been affected by varieties of material and adornment, certainly may be divided into two distinct groups, the under and the outer garments,—the former being light and specially adapted to a hot climate, and the latter being of heavier materials and suited to the colder seasons. As in the case of their arts, so in their costume the Israelites must be considered to have been influenced by usages prevalent in Egypt and Phaenicia ; subsequently, by those of Assyria; and, still later, by those of Assyria ; and, still later, by those of the Romans. Again, it is more than probable that local influenced introduced fashions of their own into the costume of the dweller in the more mountainous districts of Palestine. For peculiar classes among them the Israelites had costumes specially appointed. For the priesthood there were their own official vestments, for which regulations were laid down with extreme minuteness, for which regulations were laid down with extreme minuteness, and enforced by supreme authority. The kings and princes had their "royal apparel," and for the warriors appropriate appointment were provided. Different ranks of persons, too, in various ways were distinguished by the richness, the costliness, the simplicity, or the meanness of their attire. So far as externals went, the episode in the Gospel of the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen with a Lazarus at his gate, so true a picture of Oriental life, would have been equally consistent had it found a place in some one of the earlier chapters in the same national history. Of the distinctive characteristics of female costume in Israel nothing is known, beyond the general fact that it was rich and delicate as far as circumstances would admit, and that personal ornaments were highly prized. Thus much is certain that the veil, a modern fashion now so prevalent in the East, in its modern acceptation was unknown among the women of ancient Israel, with certain exceptions only that are altogether at variance with the uses and association of the Oriental veil at the present day. Furs, used both for warmth and adornment, with cloth woven from camels’s and from goats’ hair, including the "sackcloth" of sorrow and humiliation, were in use from an early period ; so also, doubtless, was woolen, cloth, the natural material for the clothing of a pastoral people. Familiarity with fabrics of linen, cotton, and silk, with those of various materials of foreign manufacture, may be considered to have been acquired by the Israelites in and from Egypt. There, too, they became familiar with the process of dyeing, and with the use of coloured thread, and of gold-thread or fine wire, for textile purposes ; and there they learned both to introduce various figures and devices into their woven fabrics, and to enhance their effectiveness with the needle. Needlework and embroidery, indeed, were extensively used by them in the production of various decorative fabrics. Whatever may have been the use in Israel of fabrics and decorations that were coloured, those that were white (the natural hue of any material, as well as actual whiteness, being understood to be implied by this term "white") were in general use by the Israelites for their dress, also were held by them in the highest estimation. This preference possibly may be traced to the provision in the Mosaic law which, apparently with the view to impress on the mind of the Israelites the idea of simplicity, and to protect them from the hurtful effects of Oriental luxury and extravagance, forbade the use of mixed texture such as would be produced by wool and flax in combination.

The particular garments of the Israelites of which express mention is made, include the following:—

Under Garments.—(1.) The sadin, a light wrapper, worn next to the person. (2.) The cetoneth, or under-tunic, either sleeveless or having open sleeves, moderately loose, varying in length, and adjusted about the waist in such a manner as to form a pocket from an overlapping fold. Corresponding with the modern kaftan, the cetoneth was habitually in use, worn either with or without the sadin, by both sexes, and by persons of all ranks. (3.) The mile, or over-tunic, made with sleeves, longer and somewhat thicker in substance than the cetoneth, and, like it, in general use. To both these garments the term "coat" is applied in our version of the ancient Scriptures.

II. Outer Germents.—To all these garments, alike in being designed only fro occasional use or for use under exceptional conditions and circumstances, in their generic character the term "clock," as understood by ourselves, appears to have been applicable. Of these clocks, robes, mantles, or wrappers there were several varieties, which different from each other as well in form as in material, substance, and ornamentation ; fringes, however, seem to have been generally attached to them ; and they were worn with various modes of adjustment. The wood malbush distinguished a robe of state. Express mention is made, but unattended with any precise descriptive notices, of more than one variety of shawl, worn by women, which might be so adjusted as to form a head-covering in addition to enveloping the person. To very light female robes also, which were long and flowing, occasional references are made. Of the male head-dresses worn by Israelites, distinct from such coverings for the head as might act as hoods formed by wrapping the mantle or cloak about the head, we have no exact knowledge. Though no such relics are known to be still in existence, goldsmiths’ work and jewellery certainly enjoyed a high degree of estimation in ancient Israel, as always has been the case with all Eastern races ; and they constituted important elements in the decoration of Jewish costume.

The passages of chief importance in the Old Testament, in which the vestments of the priesthood are enumerated and described, occur in Exodus xxviii., xxix., and xxxix., and in Leviticus viii. and xvi. In the Apocryphal books also reference may be made to Ecclesiasticus xlv., and to1 Maccabees x. 21, in which last passage the entire investiture of the high priest of designed to be understood. Very full descriptive notices of the sacerdotal vestment of the Jewish priesthood are given by Josephus, in his Antiquities, iii. 7, and in his Wars, v. v. 7. Further illustration on the same subject is given in his Epistle to Fabiola, ii. 574, written at Bethlehem by St Jerome, 396 A.D.

An "order" or "change of garments," for a man—always in the East highly esteemed as both an honourable and a valuable present—among the Israelites consisted of a cenoneth and mile, with perhaps a sadin, and certainly one or more of the occasional outer robes, mantles, or cloaks. In presents of this kind, the number of the "changes of germents, " which from their loose and flowing character would not fail to adapt themselves to general use, was studiously adjusted to the degree of estimation in which the recipient was held, and not without an indirect and yet significant reference to the dignity of the giver. The expression "naked," when applied to an Israelite, denoted, not a condition of actual nudity, but the fact of being attired only in a single under garment, and consequently implied the being in readiness for active exercises or violent exertion. The strongly marked and comprehensive distinction between the East and the West receives a characteristic illustration in the Oriental usage of uncovering the feet and covering the head, in token of respect and even of adoration. The "rending the garments," generally the outer garment only an act so strange to us in the West, to the Israelites, in common with other Orientals, was peculiarly significant of grief, indignation, humiliation, and despair.

Among the figures painted in the very ancient tomb at Beni Hassan, in Egypt, occurs a group of figures from which the annexed woodcut has been drawn (fig. 11), conjectured to represent the arrival of Joseph’s brethren when they went to purchase corn in the land of the Pharaohs. Again, considerably later, but as early as the days of the Pharaoh – Necho by whom Josiah was defeated and slain at Megiddo, among some sculpture in one of the tombs discovered by Belzoni, near Thebes, which represent captives of different nations brought before their Egyptian conqueror, four Jews are supposed to have been introduced after the manner shown in fig. 12. The fringe commanded by Moses, Num. xv. 38, to be worn by his people, and which probably was a relic of a still more ancient usage in the family of Jacob, may be considered to have been shown in both these groups. In the almost total absence of their not less improbable ancient examples, these figures may be accepted as contemporary representations of persons whose attire, such as it is shown to have been, at any rate may be considered to represent corresponding articles of dress in use in ancient Israel. Jews, once more, are undoubtedly represented in the fine series of Assyrian bas-reliefs commemorating the capture of Lachish by Sennacherib, discovered and described by Mr Layard (Nineveh and Babylon, p. 152 ; and 2d series of Monuments of Nineveh, plates xx. to xxiv). The physiognomy of these Jewish captives is strikingly indicated in the sculptures in question, but of their national costume but very little is shown ; for " they had been stripped of their ornaments and their fine raiment, and were left barefooted and half-clothed. From the women, too, had been removed the ‘splendor of the foot ornaments, and the caps of network, and the crescents ; the ear pendants, and the bracelets, and the thin veils ; the head-dresses, and the ornaments of the legs, and the girdles, and the perfume boxes, and the amulets ; the rings and the jewels of the nose ; the embroidered robes, and the tunics, and the cloaks, and the satchels ; the transparent garments, and the fine linen vests, and the turbans, and the mantles;’ for they wore, ‘instead of a girdle, a rope ; and, instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth." (See Isa. iii. 18, &c. ; and Ezek xvi. 10, &c.) Upon the exceeding interesting description of the dress worn in ancient times by the women of Israel, as given by the two great prophets, Mr Layard remarks that "most of the ornaments enumerated, probably, indeed, the whole of them, if we were acquainted with the exact meaning of the Hebrew words, are still to be traced in the costumes of Eastern women inhabiting the same country. Many appear to be mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions among objects of tribute and spoil brought to the king." With this reference to the dress and ornaments of the female inhabitants of Syria at the present day, of whom two groups are represented in figs. 13 and 14, and the following brief but graphics passage from the same writer’s Nineveh and Babylon (p. 472) may consisted be associated. On approaching Baghdad, the low banks of the Tigris—the river itself gradually becoming wider and wider, and its stream being almost motionless—were seen to "swarm with Arabs,—men, women, and naked children. Horsemen and riders on white asses were hurrying along the river side. Turks in flowing robes and broad turbans ; Persians in high black caps and close-fitting tunics ; the Bokhara pilgrim in his white head-dress and way-worn garments ; the Bedouin chief in his tasseled keffieh and striped aba ; Baghdad ladies, with their scarlet and white draperies fretted with threads of gold, and their black horse-hair veils concealing even their eyes ; Persian women wrapped in their sightless garments ; and Arab girls in their simple blue shirts,—all were mingled together in one motley crowd." In the costume in common and constant use at the present day, as well by men—such as is exemplified in the groups shown in figs. 15 and 16—as by women in the town and villages of Syria, may be discerned the transmitted representations of the general character and aspect of the attire of the same regions in remote centuries ; as, in like manner, the patriarchal dress of ancient Israel may be assumed to have had its primitive type in a great measure reproduced in our own times in the long coarse shirt, the ample striped aba of camels’ hair (the coloured stripe that alternates with the white one, denoting the wearer’s tribe), and the red and yellow keffieh, folded and tied in hereditary fashion about his swarthy face and over his neck and shoulders by the Bedouin Arab of the desert (fig. 17).


If it may be said, as it may certainly be said with truth, of Oriental costume both in its general character and its specific details, that it is distinguished, in contrast to that of the ever-changing West, by the pervading and characteristic unchangeableness of the East, equally true it is that the vast populations which through the wide expanse of the earth’s surface included in "The East," comprehend in their numbers the inheritors and the wearers of costumes exhibiting in many peculiar and distinctive features an almost endless variety. At the same time, precisely as a distinct recognition as well as of the range as of the applicability and the significance of the one term "The East" suggests no confusion of ideas respecting different Eastern realms and peoples, so also all Oriental costume so far bears the impress of Eastern requirement and association as in a certain degree to admit of a single general classification. Thus, unlike to each other in not a few of their personal qualities as any two human beings well could be, and differing also in many decidedly marked particulars in regards tot heir costume, the nomand Bedouin of Arabia in every essential respect is not less a true and truly typical Oriental than the most gorgeously attired and, after his fashion, the most refined of the native potentates of Hindustan. So, also, notwithstanding the points of difference between their costume as well of the one as of the other is unmistakably Oriental. The same may be said of dresses of the different races that inhabit Hindustan. And they all share an equally true Oriental brotherhood, and especially in externals, in however decided a manner and degree each race may bear its own distinctive impress even in those very externals, with the natives of Japan and China and Burmah, of Persia, Arabia, Modern, Egypt, Armenia, and Turkey, and with other Eastern races also that need not to be here particularized. Unless when circumstances reduce their attire to proportions so scantly as scarcely, if at all, to exceed that of the savage tribes who inhabit some tropical districts, or when influenced by some exceptional conditions, all Orientals are more or less inclined to wear loose and long and flowing garments ; their trousers, when any are worn, are very large and gathered in at the ankles ; they have their hands habitually covered, whether with a turban, fez, or some variety of cap of a local hereditary style ; their feet, when not bare, are very lightly equipped ; they delight in white fabrics, mingled with such as exhibit the most brilliant colours and the richest designs ; and they indulge in an abundance and variety of personal ornaments. Also a general resemblance prevails between the costumes of the two sexes. The decorative arts of China and Japan, always national both in the selection and the treatment of their subjects, in connection with certain universally esteemed varieties of their manufactures, have familiarized the world with the typical characteristics of the costumes worn by all ranks classes in those countries. Recent events have ranks and classes in those countries. Recent events have caused the more remarkable costumes of India to become well known through several publications ; and the same may also be said concerning the costumes of other Oriental nations, and those of them more particularly which are nearest to Europe and have the closest relations with Europeans. In South-Eastern Europe itself, the costume of the modern Greeks semi-Oriental qualities.


Without extending to any notice of the ordinary attire habitually worn in everyday life, at successive periods, by ecclesiastical personage of all ranks and orders in the Christian church, ecclesiastical costumes here may be considered to imply consequently to include the vestments, distinctively official and ministerial in their character and use, which such personages would wear only when actually engaged in the functions of their respective offices, or on occasions of special state and solemnity. The habits, which with the advance of time came to assumed by the members of the monastic orders, may most appropriately advantageously be treated apart by themselves.

That ministering vestments, properly so called, and with them ecclesiastical insignia, were unknown among Christian of the apostolic age may be considered as unquestionably certain ; and, in like manner, in the three succeeding centuries only the faintest traces, if indeed any authentic tracers whatever of such vestments can be said either to exist, or to have left indications of over having existed. The long and flowing garments, suggestive of peaceful repose and enjoyment, and always in some degree endowed with dignified associations, whenever the circumstances of the times would permit, doubtless, were worn by the primitive Christian ministers when discharging their official duties ; but it also is no less certain that on the same occasions precisely similar garments were generally worn by Christian worshippers, whose condition justified their appearing in them. During the prolonged stormy period of the second group of four centuries in the Christian era the primitive ecclesiastical costume—the costume, be it remembere, at times of joyous festival and solemn ceremonial adopted by all persons of comparatively high social standing-still was retained unchanged in its general style and aspect, and having experienced only such slight modifications and additions as naturally would have their development with the course of events. As time passed on, keeping pace both with innovations upon primitive doctrine and with vicissitudes of political position, in various ways there modifications became modified, and to these additions fresh novelties gradually were added. Even at the commencement of the 19th century, when the true historic era of ecclesiastical costume may be defined to have commenced with it, the two most remarkable circumstances in connection with ecclesiastical costume were, on the one hand, its approximately unchanged character, and, on the other hand, its close general resemblance, amounting almost to identity, to the old civil costume, which in the state dresses of the Roman official dignitaries survived the sweeping changes of barbarian revolution. It is worthy of especial remark that the earliest evidence of the introduction of any insignia distinctive of rank and dignity in ecclesiastical costume is to be derived from the presence of two dark strips of varying width on the long white tunics in which certain early figures, certainly to be regarded as habited in ecclesiastical vestments, are represented ; and these strips can be considered in no other light than as adaptations from the clavi, some broad and others narrow, so well known in classic attire to distinguish the Roman senatorial and equestrian ranks. Equally remarkable is the fact of the Christian hierarchy should have derived the insignia of their rank in church, through the high position of civil power in the state exercised by the early bishops of Rome, from the official decorations of the Roman magistracy as well as the republic as of the empire. It will be borne in mind that all changes in ecclesiastical vestments, and all additions to those of early date, made by at authority during the Middle-Ages, were designed to be suggestive of some symbolical motive and to convey some doctrinal significance—considerations, however important in many respects in themselves, which it would be out of place here to discuss even superficially, when treating of all ecclesiastical vestments simply in their capacity as "costume." In connection also with the full development in the 11th and 12the centuries of that type of vestments which, when once it had been formally established, has been maintained with but slight modifications in the Roman Church to the present time, no unimportant part was taken by the attempts, first contemplated in the 9th century, that were made to assimilate such vestments as might be distinctive of the Christian ministry with those appointed in the Mosaic law for priesthood in Israel. The idea that any such similitude might exist, or should be made to attain to existence, once having arisen would naturally take a strong hold on the minds of the more ambitious and also of the more learned ecclesiastics of those times. So, when in the first instance the points of difference between the two types of vestments were found to be far more decided than those of resemblance, a process of deliberate assimilation was decreed, which brought about us close an approximation between the two types as was held to be desirable—an approximation, it scarcely is necessary to add, that removed the elaborate and ornate vestments of mediaeval Christendom as far as possible from retaining any affinity to the dignified simplicity of Christian ministerial costume in primitive times.


1.The Alb.—In the Acts of the Council of Toledo, 633, the habits and insignia of the three orders of the clergy are thus defined :—of the bishop, the orarium, the ring, and the staff ; of the presbyter, the orarium and the planeta ; and of the deacon, the orarium and the alba or alb. In this definition it may be assumed to have been implied that the alb was common to the three orders, as the planeta was worn by bishops as well as by presbyters. Its name abbreviated from tunian alba, and at first the simple and yet dignified white linen tunic that in the primitive ages was held to be the costume appropriate for the Christian ministry, in the 9th century the alb began to have its loose and flowing proportions contracted ; and these changes were continued until the vestment was made to fit with comparative closeness about the persons of the wearer, when it was confined about the waist by narrow girdle. The pure simplicity of the early white tunic also was superseded by the addition of rich "orfreys" (aurifrigia) of embroidery and goldsmiths’ work. These "apparels" (parurae), in the form of masses and stripes, were attached to the lower part of the alb and to the wrists of its sleeves. In the second half of the 14th century the wrist-apparels of albs, instead of encircling the sleeves as previously had been the custom, appear only upon the upper part of them.

2. The Stole, the name in the 9th century given to ancient orarium, itself as it would seem having its prototypes in the Roman clavi, is a narrow scarf adjusted about the neck so as to have its extremities hanging down in front of the wearer. Originally white and without ornament, stoles after a time were made of various colours, were enriched with orfreys and fringed at their ends. Worn immediately over the alb, the stole is crossed upon the breast of the wearer, being retained in that position by passing under the girdle. When the chasuble is worn, and worn without the Episcopal dalmatic and tunic, the ends of the stole appear issuing from beneath it. In some few early ecclesiastical effigies, which are without a chasuble, but in its stead have a cope open in front, the entire adjustment of the stole is distinctly shown, as in fig. 18 drawn from a brass at Horsham. This effigy also shows in what manner the alb, amice, and maniple are worn, and it may advantageously be compared with fig. 20, also drawn from a brass to Peter de Lacy, rector of Northfleet, in Northfleet Church, in which the stole fro the most part is covered by the chasuble. Its ancient name orarium, equivalent to our "handkerchief," shows the mediaeval stole to have been designed as well to wipe the face as, in accordance with primitive usage, to cover it when offering prayer. For deacons it was appointed to wear the stole depending from over the left shoulder only, so as to show but one end of it on the front of their persons (fig. 19). The idea of a connection in the significance of the stole to denote dignity with the ribband worn as a knightly distinction is obvious.

3. The Maniple.—A short species of stole, the representative of the ancient mappula and its successor, the maniple, which is worn so as to have been substituted in the first instance for the purposes tow which the stole itself originally had been applied. Like the stole, however, the maniple, regarded as one of the ecclesiastical vestments as early as the 9th century, soon became merely a decorative accessory of the official costume of ecclesiastics (see fig. 18, 20).

4. The Chasuble.—This super-vestment, worn over the alb and the stole, and by ecclesiastics of Episcopal rank also over the dalmatic and tunic, which in the 11th century was expressly associated with the ecclesiastical office, is identical with the casual of the 9th century and, through it, derived from the planeta of still earlier times. Both planeta and casual, however, as over garments furnished with a hood which would envelop the entire person, were worn by laymen, the chief if not the only distinction between those two garments being that the former from its greater costliness was in use by persons of rank and wealth, while the latter was adopted by the humbler and poorer classes. In form and general character both the planeta and the casual appear to have resembled the ancient paenula, an outer garment worn in Italy long before our era, and of which the memory still survives in the titles of the ecclesiastic super-vestment of the East. Circular or oval in form, and having in the centre an aperture for the head of the wearer to pass through, the chasuble covers the arms as well as the body, so that when they are raised it falls over the arms both before and behind. Made of various materials and of different colours, in early representations of its this vestments is constantly found to have been elaborately adorned with embroideries and other decorative accessories, also with a profusion of orfreys in gold and silver work enriched with gems (fig. 20). A favourite form of chasuble-orfrey, evidently an imitation of the archiepiscopal pall, encircles the hand-aperture and, passing over the shoulders of the wearer, falls in straight line down both the back and the front of his persons.

5. The Amice.—First mentioned as a vestment in the 9th century, and from the following century enriched with apparels, when opened out the amice was square in shape, and it was adjusted precisely after the manner of its present adjustment, beneath both alb and chasuble, about the throat and over the shoulders. In monumental effigies the apparel of this vestment is represented either falling back from the throat of the wearer, or, in the later examples, standing up somewhat stiffly around it ; and this position over the chasuble sometimes has suggested the mistaken idea that the apparel of the amice forms a collar to the chasuble itself. By holding it for a few moments over the head at the time of putting it on, the amice in course of time was considered to symbolized the Christian helmet (see fig. 20).

6. The Dalmatic, a full-sleeves tunic reaching about to the knees. Long after its adoption as an ecclesiastical vestment, the secular officials on occasions of ceremony and state ; and at the present time is continues, as it continued through the Middle Ages, to be a royal robe as well in England as on the Continent. Like the other ancient vestments, originally white and plain, in the 10th century the dalmatic assumed various colours, and in the 12th and the succeeding centuries it followed the colour of the chasuble. Appointed to be worn by deacons over the alb as the distinctive vestment of their order, when made of costly materials and richly adorned the dalmatic was added to their official costume by prelates, by them to be worn immediately under the chasuble. In early Episcopal effigies the lower part of the Dalmatic is represented, appearing beneath the chasuble, richly fringed and partially slit up at the sides, as fig. 21, drawn from the corresponding part of the brass to Thomas Cranley, archbishop of Dublin, in the chapel of New College, Oxford, 1417. Nearly a century earlier (1325), in the cathedral of St Nazaire at Carcassonne in France, the statue of Bishop Pierre de Roquefort, which is without the chasuble, shows with admirable distinctness the form and adjustment of the Episcopal dalmatic, with the tunic appearing beneath it, the ends of the stole being visible issuing beneath them both. The large sleeves of the dalmatic and the tight sleeves of the tunic are shown at the wrists, and from the left wrist the maniple hangs down (fig. 22). Over the other vestment (as in fig. 18) is a cope, fastened across the breast with a morse charged with an Agnes Dei. The prelate wears his mitre, and in his hand he holds his pastoral-staff. In England, in Norwich Cathedral, there is a similar example of the Episcopal habit in the effigy of Bishop Goldwell (1498), which represents both dalmatic and tunic as shorter than in the French statue ; the dalmatic also has a broad central vertical band of rich embroidery, and at the wrists the sleeves of the alb, tunic, and dalmatic are shown. Figures of deacons, rare in mediaeval art, when they generally profess to represent St Lawrence, with the instrument of his martyrdom. In fig. 23, reduced from a drawing on vellum in a MS. of the 13th century in the Lambeth Library, the dalmatic, which is nearly as long as the usually short alb, is shown as it was ornamented and worn at the period. Another good example, much later in date, also a figure of St Lawrence, is sculptured inone of the canopied compartments of the monumental chantry of Prince Arthur Tudor in Worcester Cathedral. Fig. 19, from the Liber Pontificalis of Landolfus, a MS. of the 9th century, shows how the stole was disposed over the left shouder by a deacon wearing an alb and a dalmatic.

7. The Tunic.—The vestment distinguished by this name, worn by prelates between the alb and the dalmatic, is rather longer than the vestment last named, and its sleeves, also are somewhat longer and not quite so full. As the vestments increased in number, and at the same time became less simple and more splendid, the gradual addition of one tunic after another, to be traced from the 9th century downwards, was strictly in keeping with the spirit of the times. Early in the 14th century it had a remarkable parallels in the succession of surcoats, with which, of their palpable inconvenience, the knights covered their armour. It is specially curious to observe how studiously the men-at-arms carried out their imitation of the ecclesiastical vestments of their day, by making each one of their successive surcoats in front of their persons shorter than the one beneath it, so displaying them all. In the case of the ecclesiastical vestments, the tunic proper, become distinctively the alb or under-tunic, was coverd by the tunic, a rich and splendid vestment ; and the dalmatic, shorn of its ancient length in order to leave the second or middle tunic visible, followed, third in order, and became the super-tunic of the group. The tunic, like the dalmatic, partially slit at its sides and generally fringed, is well represented in monumental effigies and other early works (see fig. 21).

8. The Cope, a voluminous cloak or outer garment, originally furnished with a hood for covering and protecting the head, and of sufficient size to envelop the entire person of the wearer, would naturally admit of every possible variety in material, colour, and ornamentation, and it also would be used as well by laymen, as by ecclesiastics of all orders and by monks. Richly adorned copes, however, appear in mediaeval times to have been considered as almost exclusively ecclesiastical vestments of stately dignity, to be worn in processions and on those ceremonial occasions which would be distinguished from the services of the altar. Such copes, having splendid border-apparels into which canopied figures of sainted personages frequently were introduced with heraldic and other devices, were fastened across the breast by a morse, often of costly material and highly artistic workmanship (see fig. 22).

9. The Almuce or Aumuce, a hood of fur, was apparently introduced in the 13th century, its object being to afford protection from cold in processions, &c., and in the 15th century a cape and pendants also of fur were added to it.

10. The Surplice, an alb, almost of primitive form, ample, and flowing, and closely resembling the surplice of the present day, was in use in the Middle Ages in processions and on certain occasions of ceremony. An excellent example of a surplice of the 15th century is given in the noble brass to Prior Nelond, at Cowfold, Sussex, 1433.

11. The Mitre.—First mentioned among ecclesiastical vestments about the middle of the 12th century, though some kind of dignified Episcopal head-gear certainly had been in use considerably earlier, the mitre originally was made of linen embroidered ; and it does not appear in its well-known double or cleft form until the 12th century had made a considerable advance, when it began to be constructed of some rich material and to receive costly adornment. Previous to the 14th century, when they attained to the perfection of their form, mitres were very low, their contour then being concave. Subsequently they became more and more elevated, and their contour was changed concave to convex. Two short bands of some material, fringed at the ends, form the infulae of a mitre, and depend from it, one can either side.

12. The Crosier and the Pastoral-Staff.—The former, having a cross-head, is appropriated to archbishops ; and the latter, the official patoral-staff of bishops and abbots, has a crook-head, like the head of a shepherd’s staff. Expressly mentioned as the ensign of the Episcopal office in the first half of the 7th century, as early as the 10th century the pastoral-staff became with elaborate and precious ornamentation, and was adorned with a vexillim, or scarf, attached to the staff immediately below the cross or crook-head. The idea that some signification is conveyed by the position in which in monumental effigies and in other Episcopal figures the pastoral-staff is represented to be held appears to be without any foundation.

13. The Episcopal Ring, Gloves, and Boots.—Early in the 7th century, and probably still earlier, a ring of large size, to be worn on the right hand, formed a regular part of the Episcopal insignia ; and in the full development of the vestments which took place in the 12th century, embroidered gloves, made with an opening to display the ring, and corresponding boots or shoes included as display the ring, and corresponding boots or shoes were included as components of the full official attire of the hierarchy.

14. The Pall ("Pallium").—This remarkable vestment, sent by the Pope to prelates of archiepiscopal rank, and restricted to their order, being in fact a peculiar form of the orarium or stole, consists of a narrow band of white lamb’s wool, forming a circle to rest on the chasuble around the throat and over the shoulders, from which circle depend two other bands of the same fabric and width to hang down, the one on the front and the other on the back of the prelate, thus whether seen in front or behind, presenting or behind, presenting, the appearance of the letter Y. the depending bands, which terminate in fringes and appear occasionally to have been fastened with golden pins to the chasuble, like the circular band, are changed with crosses pattée of black or purple silk. This pall, constantly represented in early works of Christian art through successive centuries, and blazoned among ourselves in the armorial insignia of the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury, is seen to have varied but slightly in either its form or its adjustment from the 9th century to the 16th. An apparel, evidently designed to represent the pall, is found constantly to have adopted for the ornamentation of mediaeval chasubles. The pall still in use in the Roman Church has the pendant bands considerably shorter than they appear in the early representation (see fig. 21).

15. The Chimere and Rochet.—Of the former it will be sufficient to state it to be a modification of the cope ; while the latter, a long sleeveless robe representing known as a colobium in ancient times, appears to have been assigned distinctively for Episcopal use, and also after the Reformation to have been allied to the full lawn-sleeves well known at the present day, from being well suited to be worn under another vestment. By prelates of the Reformed Church a short cassock of black silk is worn with their ordinary attire. A long loose black cassock also was commonly worn by ecclesiastics during the 17th and 18th centuries.

VESTMENTS IN USE IN THE EAST.—In its general bearing, what has been said of the vestments in use in Western Christendon, and particularly in reference to their use during the first eight centuries of our era, with comparatively slight modifications, is also applicable to the official vestments of the church in the East,—the chief distinction between the vestments of the East and the West, in addition to such may in a great degree by traced to the influences of climate and to certain local associations, being a closer adherence in the former than in the latter to the earliest usages. The Greek Church also, being very tenacious in its own usages, to the present day retain everywhere its mediaeval, their forms, names, and uses remaining unchanged—the sticharion corresponding with the alba and the early dalmatic of the West ; the phaelonion, with the chasuble and its earlier predecessors, the casual and planeta ; the omophorion, with the pall ; and the orarion, with the orarium and its successors the stole.


The habits worn during the Middle Ages by the monastic orders may be briefly described as follows:—

Benedictines.—Gown or cassock of black, white, or russet cloth, with white or black fur, and black cape and hood.

Cluniacs.—Habit entirely black.

Cistercians.—White cassock with cape and small hood ; over this when the church a white gown, when abroad a black gown.

Carthusians.—Habit entirely white, except black clock.

Augustines.—Black cassock under white full-sleeves tunic ; over all, black cloak and hood ; square black cap.

Praemonstratensians, White Canons. –Cassock and tunic, long cloak and hood, and round cap,—all of them white.

Gilbertines.—Monks.—Black cassock and hood, and white cloak lined with

Lamb’s wool. Nuns.—Black tunic, cloak, and hood, the last lined with lamb’s wool.

Dominicans, or "Black Friars."—Same habit as that worn by the Augustine monks.

Franciscans, or "Grey Friars."—Loose and long grey cassock girded with a cord ; hood or cowl and cloak of the same.

Carmelites, or "White Friars."—Habit white throughout ; but from about 1240 to about 1290, their cloaks were partly-coloured, white and red.

Austin Friars, or "Eremites."—White cassock girded with a leather thong, with short tunic and hood ; and over these, long, black gown with wide sleeves and hood.

Crossed ("Crutched") Friars.—Blue habit, with plain red cross.

Maturines, or "Trinitarians Friars."—Habit entirely white, with eight-pointed cross of red and blue.

The monastic garment named "scapulary," the exact character of which has not been decidedly determined, appears to have been a short super-tunic, sleeveless, but having a hood or cowl.


In the Middle Ages, professors of doctors and doctors and bachelors of divinity, and graduates of the universities above the rank of bachelor in the faculties of arts and law, in addition to the customary costume of their time and station, in connection with their academic rank wore long flowing gowns having slits at the sides for their arms to pass through, with large capes or tippets and hoods, the latter having pendant streamers, these capes and hoods in many instances forming parts of the same article of dress. Graduates of the highest rank also wore round caps, pointed in the crown, and of a dark colour. In the 15th century, when distinctions appear first to have been introduced into the costumes of masters and bachelors of arts, the gowns of the latter were shorter than those of masters, and had full sleeves reaching to the writs and pointed at the back. The capes and hoods of bachelors also were bordered with white fur or wool. By various peculiarities of form, colour, and lining, the gowns, capes, and hoods of graduates of all the higher ranks certainly were distinguished ; but in the comparatively rare examples of monumental effigies represented in academic habit, which almost without exception are destitute of colour, these distinctions are not shown in any regular or marked and decided manner. Throughout the last two hundred years, if not far a still longer period, the academic habits of the University of Oxford have retained their forms unaltered. They may generally be classified in two groups—ecclesiastical and civil. The gowns of the former, worn by all graduates in both divinity and arts, and also by all members on the foundation of any college, have loose sleeves, are destitute of collars and gathered in in small plaits at the back, and bear a general resemblance to what is known of the more ancient habits, the sleeves of the masters’ gown still having slits (now cut horizontally, instead of vertically) for the passage of the arms. On the other hand, the gowns of graduates in law and the other faculties, and of undergraduates who are not on the foundation of any college, besides being of less ample proportions, have falling collars and closer sleeves, which latter in the undergraduates’ gowns have dwindled into more strips; and they evidently derived their origin from parts of the ordinary dress of civilians in the 16th and 17th centuries. The gowns of graduates of the University of Cambridge for the most part are the same as those worn in the sister university ; but at Cambridge the undergraduates, not being on the foundation, of almost every college have a gown appropriated to their own college. The hoods of their degrees worn by graduates in the faculties of divinity and arts are distinguished as follows:— D.D., Oxford scarlet cloth, lined with black silk ; Cambridge, scarlet cloth, lined with lilac blossom or pink silk ; M.A., Oxford, black, lined with cherry-colour or crimson ; Cambridge, black, lined with white ; Dublin, lined with blue ; Durham, lined with purple ; London, lined with brown. B.A. hoods are black and bordered with invite fur.


For the purpose of the present article the terms "early European" and "mediaeval" may be considered to apply to the period ranging from the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain to the accession of the Stuarts to the throne of Great Britain—that is, from about the close of the first quarter of the 5th century to the commencement of the 17th century ; and the latter term," mediaeval," may date the commencement of its application from the establishment of his Anglo-Saxon dynasty by Egbert at the opening of the 9th century.

A prolonged period of total darkness having passed away, at first, and for a considerable time, in addition to written descriptions and indirect notices which frequently are far from being intelligible, and to such actual relics as originally were deposited with the remains of dead without any view either to monumental commemoration or to historical illustration, the authorities are restricted to the illuminated compositions which so happily are associated with early MSS. After a while, the earliest seals and some ivory carvings lend such aid as may lie within the compass of their power. Next follow those invaluable illustrators of costume, monumental effigies of every class, with which may be allied figures represented in architectural sculpture and painting, upon seals also and coins. Actual relics throughout the era of monumental effigies gradually increased in both number and variety, until at length the ages of personal portraiture, properly so called, are duly reached. It will be borne in mind that until some years after the close of the 15th century, defensive armour occupied a most important position in which strictly was the "costume" of the higher classes, whose effigies, with rare exceptions only, appear sculptured, engraven, or painted in their armour, precisely as the men themselves had been armed and equipped when in life. In the Middle Ages in Europe, costume, considered as dress distinct and distinguished from armour, was affected in no slight degree by the prevailing character of the armour of each successive period, so long as a defensive equipment of any kind continued to be generally adopted Dresses that had been devised expressly to be worn, some of them under defences of mail or plate, and others over them, suggested much in the way of garments that never would have any direct connection with armour. Again, would adopt such loose and flowing garments as would combine the greatest degree of ease with a dignified aspect and their example in this respect would be to be very widely followed. The feudal system, also, powerfully aided by the heraldic sentiment that at once grew up in the feudal era and gave to it its tone and colour, exercised a powerful influence upon the costume of the various classes who, under varying conditons, where dependent upon a common feudal superior. And this influence, while adapting itself in matters of detail to personal considerations, in its general bearing acted with uniform effect upon the entire community. Of the extravagance of so many of the diverse costumes that followed each other in rapid succession during the 14th and 15th centuries, much may be directly traced to the development of heraldry in those ages, and to the enthusiastic delight in armorial devices and insignia then universally prevalent. The singular resemblance in many marked particulars between the dresses of the two sexes, observable in the Middle Ages, undoubtedly was simulated by the science and art of the contemporary heralds ; as the strange and often wildly fantastic crests and the mantlings displayed upon their helms and basinets by the one sex were paradied, and sometimes were fairly outdone, by the equally strange and no less wildly fanciful head-gear adopted by the other sex, with a view either to conceal or to enhance the natural glory of their hair. Mediaeval costume, once more, would experience both changes and modifications arising out of the introduction of fresh manufactures, and necessarily resulting from the constantly expanding range of the foreign commercial relations of different countries. Costume, moreover, would be certain to be attracted by the progressive phases of national civilization, culture, and refinement, even though it might not consistently keep pace with them. Fashion, too, always arbitrary and often inexplicable, would not fail to do its work effectually, under the diversified conditions and aspects of advancing centuries, among races by whom to costume it is assigned, not merely to clothe the persons, of both sexes, but also to display and adorn the human figure.

It will be observed that, in all countries among civilized races, in the degree that climate is more temperate, in that same degree is costume more liable to changes and fluctations, and more completely under the sway of fashion. In regions that are very hot or cold, fashion, however quaint and electric, is long-lived and tenacious of its hold, so that costume of one generation for the most part is reflected in that of its successor. In like manner, costume, and especially in its general character, is comparatively permanent among mountaineers. The history of costume, it must be added, approximately complete and explicit as it may be, can contain but little more than scant notices of the unavoidably simple or even rude attire of a considerable proportion of the laborious population in every country and at every period.

Subjugation by the Romans in the first centuries of the Christian era naturally was followed by a general by a general conformity among the conquered populations to the costume of their more civilized as well as more powerful rulers, so that after a while Roman dress may be considered to have become European. And, as Rome herself through her Eastern connections had yielded in no slight degree to Oriental influences in matters with costume, so also Roman influence in the West carried with it much that was strongly marked with the characteristics of the East. This singular association also in after times derived fresh impulses, as well peaceful costume as in armour and other military matters, through the direct agency of the crusades, acting in concert with an artistic current flowing westwards continually in the Middle Ages from Byzantium.

ANGLE-SAXON.—Generally simple in its character and designedly adapted both to the tastes and sentiments and to the usages and requirements of a hardy and temperate race, the prevailing costume of the Angle-Saxons consisted of a sleeved tunic, varying in length, but generally comparatively short, partly open at the sides, and confined about the waist by a girdle. Over this tunic, which was made of various colours, and both plain and occasionally enriched with varied ornamentation, a short cloak was worn by the young, while in its stead a mantle of ampler dimensions and greater length was adopted by persons more advanced in age. Similar mantles, not assumed as wrappers for extra warmth or protection against the weather, were in general use at ceremonies and festivals Trews or drawers, continued to form hose for the lower limbs, with shoes of low boots, completed the ordinary attire of the men, who wore their beards, and delighted in having long and flowing hair. Ornaments, many of them of gold and remarkable for beauty of design and excellence of workmanship, were freely used by the Anglo-Saxons of both sexes ; and the numerous fibulae, brooches, and other personal ornaments that have been discovered in their graves attest the attainment of the Anglo-Saxons to an advanced condition of civilization and refinement. A peculiarly in the dress of the men of all ranks was the cross-gartering of their hose, or their simply covering their legs below the knee with crossed swathing bands fastened at the knee. The females wore long tunics or gowns, made loose and high, and girt in about the waist. Over these they had shorter tunics, often much enriched, and with sleeves, unlike the close-fitting sleeves of their under tunics, that were very wide, and widest at the writs. Over all, mantles of ample size and provided with hoods to cover the head were thrown, and disposed with effective gracefulness. Coverchefs also were habitually in use, to cover the head when the mantle would not be assumed and they often were so adjusted as to encircle the face and to cover both the throat and the shoulders ; so that they may correctly be regarded as prototypes of the wimple, so popular in somewhat late times. The girdle, it may be added, as worn by both sexes, was rather a swathing band, folded for doing girdle duty, than a girdle proper. The costume of the princes, the nobles, and the wealthy, while in its general character the same as that already described, was distinguished by greater richness of material and more costly adornment. As if to parody the universal fashion of cross upon their arms twisted bracelets or torques, or, in their stead, a number of simple bracelets—a custom common to them and all their kindred of Scandinavian descent.

Read the rest of this article:
Costume - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries