Dress Style in the Ancient Egypt The first civilization began in the place of Mesopotamia where it is in Iraq today. From that time, many things have been inherited through centuries such as arts, architectures, and religions. What about the cloth the ancient people wore at the time? The topic seems to be fascinating to research, and in this essay I would like to talk about the dress style of ancient Egyptians and pharaoh’s adornments as well. At first, ancient Egyptians chose the best materials for their cloth concerning the climate in their region.
Since the Egyptian climate was very hot in summer and mild in winter, they favored light clothing materials which were all made from plant fibers, especially linens. Sometimes, they were made from wools, but wools were not preferred to ancient Egyptians. Based on the trace found in the Egyptian tomb, Silks were also imported by trading to the eastern Mediterranean, but probably the materials were used only the second half of the second millennium B. C. Animal skins like leopard were worn by priests and pharaohs, and feathers were worn by kings and queens as well.
At second, ancient Egyptians already employed the technique of spinning and weaving in manufacturing clothes. The important textile, lines were made from flax which was seen as a gift of the Nile as the Hymn to Hapi tells that “People are clothed with the flax of his fields. ” Flax fibers were favored by men because of its longest and strongest fibers among all the natural fibers. Most of the cloth manufacturing was women’s work, yet men also helped to make cloth in some step of the production. The first stages of the linen production were done by men.
They reaped the plants and extracted fibers by beating and combing the plants. The fibers could be spun into thread and woven on horizontal looms. And those works of spinning weaving were often performed by women. Vertical looms were invented during the New Kingdom, and the new looms physically required operating by men. Stitches were used on such as sleeves or shoulder straps. The seams used were generally simple or lap-over, though run-and-fell and overcast seams were also known. The number of different stitch types was also limited: unning stitch, overcast stitch, and twisted chain stitch. The tools used such as knives and needles changed over the centuries. Blades were changing from stone during the Neolithic, then from copper, from bronze during the Middle Kingdom and finally from iron. Needles were made from wood, bone, and metal. The Egyptians succeeded in making them millimeter thick copper needles. Then, how did they keep their cloth clean? There were the titles of “chief washer of the palace” and “chief bleacher” who was in charge of keeping royal clothes white.
It was obviously hard work to wash clothes by hand. At the time, soap was not known to ancient Egyptians yet. So they used lye, which is made of castor-oil and saltpeter, or detergents made of soapworts or asphodel. Pairing workers, the laundry was beaten, rinsed and wrung. Many of ancient Egyptians did not have access to facilities and had to do their laundry sometimes under difficult conditions. It could be dangerous for them to wash on the shore of the river or the bank of a canal, which had the advantage of not having to carry a lot of water in heavy earthen pots.
The Egyptians walked on barefoot much of the time, however, footwear was needed depending on occasions, like when they got hurt their feet. People living around the Mediterranean sometimes needed elaborate footwear, except the Hittites in their Anatolian highlands who wore shoes with turned up toes. The footwear worn by the Egyptians was simple sandals which were tied with two thongs, or sandals tuned upwards at the pointed tip. They were made of leather woven or stitched together, and often times they were tuned upwards. The cheapest sandals were affordable to most of the people, but still the poorest people.
Egyptian kings also went on barefoot as they were depicted in images. But sometimes they wore beautifully decorated sandals and also decorated gloves as their gods were so. Even sandals which were made out with gold have been found, though they were not comfortable at all for those who wore them. To give an example who wore sandals, Tutankhamen could be raised. According to the record of Howard Carter, who was an English archaeologist and discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb, the king had 93 items of sandals which were made of wood with drawing enemies on soles.
During the time of the Middle and New Kingdom, more people tended to use sandals in their daily life, especially soldiers or travelers. And, use of sandals was concerned as prosperity and authority. For example, Thutmose III tells about the contries he succeeded in conquering and the rest of the world by saying “all lands were under my sandals. ” In the Early Middle Kingdom, sandals changed their form and had straps between the toes and joined to the sides at the heel and just covered the foot with the upper leather. During the period of the New Kingdom, some Egyptians took shoes occasionally.
Like we have a trend and fashion in clothes today, ancient Egyptians also had fashion on their clothes. Usually the clothes were made simply, such as a short loincloth for men and a dress with straps for women. The cloth was wrapped round the body and it was held by a belt. Some foreigners wore colorful clothes in ancient Egypt; citizens generally wore whitish clothes although they knew dyed clothes. Daily clothing was mostly undecorated, though pleating was known since the Old Kingdom. In the New Kingdom the pleats were often made on vertical, but pleating could be quite complicated.
In the Middle Kingdom, clothing had three different types of pleating: one part is pleated with pleats a few centimeters apart, another with very narrow pleats, and a third part is chevron-patterned, with horizontal and vertical pleats crossing each other. Indeed there was a relationship between people’s dress style and their social classes. By looking at any Egyptians, they could be determined whether they were wealthy, a royal person, or working class. Kings wore large headdresses and much jewelry made of gold. Their clothing was more transparent which showed his wealth and status.
And of course he wore sandals. Because wearing leathers sandals or was considered unclean, priests did not wear any footwear, but they wore leopard robes while serving their god. And most of priests shaved their heads and did not wear a wig. They were thought as cleanliest of all Egyptians, and they washed their body several times for their god, Amun. Workers wore loincloths made of animal skins and linen, and also simple tunic dresses, in contrast to most of the slaves who were naked at work. Women wore long dresses which covered ankle, and the dresses were tied around the neck or behind their shoulders.
Also, they often covered their heads with a piece of cloth. For women, grooming was very important. They washed their bodies before getting dressed and wore perfume-like scented oil. And, usually women tied their hair up with pins. As I mentioned above a little about a wig, ancient Egyptians were famous for using wigs for their head and self expression. Not only men but also women often shaved their heads and wore wigs. Men wore shorter wigs than women. Natural hair pieces plaited and curled were at times added to their hair. Though, full wigs were much more common for all people.
Although wigs were mostly made of human hair, sometimes padding beneath the surface was made of vegetable fibers. They also loved wearing ornaments. Jewelry was worn on public occasions, though they were worn for ceremonies and ritual, and often they showed the wearer’s social status. As we can see them at exhibits of Egyptians, much jewelry was designed beautifully and intricately. Examples of jewelry Egyptians used were such as Amulets, Pendants, Bangles, Bracelets and Anklets as well as Earrings and Finger Rings. They were crafted from stone, bone, polished glass, gold and semiprecious stones as well.
Silver and lapis lazuli came with the onset of importation. The most common stones were alabaster, amethyst, beryl, feldspar, garnet, quartz, turquoise, gold and copper. Lastly, the most interested dress style is of pharaoh. Every pharaoh had beards even when the king was female as known as Hatshepsut. This is because they had to show their divine and had such some rule to let his or her people identify the kings with Osiris. On his one hand he held a scepter forming a shepherd’s crook called Heka. It symbolized his regalia. On his another hand, he held a fly whip which was called Nekhakha and it symbolized his power and authority.
The apron-like cloth was called Shemset and a worn belt was said to protect his back by a bull’s tail hanging from it. In any preserved images, pharaohs always wear crowns and had a number of crowns. Besides, there were many types of crowns they wore. The white crown like Upper Egypt was called Hedjet. Its shape is tall and a conical headpiece. The red crown called Deshret is the one of Lower Egypt, and it is a chair shaped with a low front and tall back. The double crown was called Pschent, which is also known as the “Two Mighty Ones. ” It is mixed with the red crown of Lower Egypt and the tall white crown of Upper Egypt.
And, this represented his control of Upper and Lower Egypt. The Nemes Crown looks much more a headdress than a crown and is famous for Tutankhamen’s gold mask. The last crown is the blue crown called Khepresh and it was employed from the 18th Dynasty as the “war crown. ” It shaped like a tall flanged helmet decorated with golden disks. Even at this ancient time, people had these marvelous clothes and adornments. And, we can tell by preserved arts, architecture as well as documents that they were inherited well from the ancient period onwards.