The Influence of Religion on Clothing
Uploaded by tmjsnbrd95 on Oct 27, 2011
This paper explores the influence religion has had on clothing in two specific periods Ancient Egypt and the Gothic Ages.
We are used to the idea of religious practitioners wearing clothing that marks them as such: priests wear collars; nuns wear habits; monks wear robes, etc. However, religion sometimes influences the way people dress in general.
This paper explores the influence of religion on clothing styles in ancient Egypt, and in the Gothic Age.
II Ancient Egypt
In general, information on this topic has been extremely difficult to find; it sometimes seems as though the question has never been raised. Having said that, however, let’s take a look at what we do know.
To begin, the clothing of the ancient Egyptians was dictated, first and foremost, by their climate. The Egypt of the Pharaohs was just as hot as it is today, but it was also considerably more humid. Clothing was as light as possible, and sometimes people simply went naked. The nobility never did so, but children, lower classes, and laborers, both men and women, simply wore nothing at all.
The clothing that was worn was made of linen, because the flax plant from which the fiber is made grows plentifully in Egypt. Clothing was simple: “a short loincloth resembling a kilt for men, a dress with straps for women.” (“Articles of Dress,” PG). The basic style of dress varied little over throughout the history of Egypt; the hemlines rose and fell; pleats were used or not, but the overall style of dress remained virtually the same for centuries. (“Articles of Dress,” PG).
With regard to religion, we know something of the “regulations” regarding priests. They were required to wear white linen garments and white sandals, and other individual pieces of clothing marked their functions. Funerary priests wore panther skins; “lector” priests wore a sash across their chests; and a high priest at Memphis wore a special collar. (“Clothing,” PG).
As for how (or whether) these fashions carried over into the general populace, that’s difficult to answer. One source says that fashions changed in the 18th Dynasty, perhaps “reflecting the great changes in religion of this time.” (“The History of Clothing in Ancient Egypt,” PG). It seems then that a look at the 18th Dynasty is in order.
The 18th Dynasty begins the period known as the New Kingdom, and...