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Aprons

 



Garments that were worn to cover the private areas of the body, worn alone, over a skirt, or over a loincloth and under a skirt, are aprons. This article of men's clothing was usually made of one or more pieces of cloth that was attached to a belt or a sash that was fastened about the waist. Chronologically speaking, during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, aprons were of long and narrow design. Starting from the Middle Kingdom to the Old Kingdom, aprons were of triangular form.

Evidence of this article of clothing has been found in Nubia, an influence of ancient Egypt, but not in Egypt herself. However, and as said before, during the Middle and New Kingdom, depictions in art often showed men wearing skirts with large triangular aprons. Nonetheless, this is very weak evidence of aprons in Egypt. In addition, it is difficult to decipher if these depictions actually show people wearing an apron or some other type of clothing that was part of the construction of a skirt. So, you tell me, do these depictions (above) show men wearing separate aprons or a wrapped skirt that is fashioned in a particular way to look thus? 

 

 

Loincloths

 

Loincloths were made of linen, naturally, that one wore as under or outer garments. Their shape took on a triangular form and one wore them as one would a diaper. To hold these garments in place, one attached strings that acted as ties to go around the waist. A sash could also be employed as well, instead of strings. Loincloths were mostly worn as separate garments by laborers. Those that have been found were made of leather, in the style of the Middle and New Kingdoms. On the other hand, during the Old Kingdom and the first half of the Middle Kingdom, one wore loincloths made of cloth. 

 

 

Long Wrapped Garments

 

From the earliest dynasties until the Middle Kingdom, men of all classes wore long wrapped garments. During the New Kingdom, men were depicted as wearing long, loose, flowing garments of creased diaphanous linen. The following pictures are some ways one had possibly wrapped a garment around the body (the figure shows a woman, but can also apply to men)....

 

 

 

Shawls & Cloaks

 

Shawls for men (yes, men wore shawls in ancient Egypt), were made from squared or rectangular pieces of fabric that on wrapped around the upper part of the body, above the waist. Other cloaks, of the longer kind, were worn as well to ensure warmth. The way one wrapped a shawl or a cloak around one's body varied and was often made to have ends tied together, over the shoulder. During the Old Kingdom, long cloaks were popular; during the Middle Kingdom, short shawls and long cloaks were commonly worn; and during the New Kingdom, one tended to wear knotted and wrap-around cloaks of various styles.

 

 

Straps

 

Depictions of men, especially in illustrations of labor, were depicted wearing narrow straps wrapped around the upper part of the body. The way one wrapped the straps around one's person varied, including the following ways: diagonally wrapped over one shoulder, diagonally across both shoulders to make an "X", wrapped around the waist, or wrapped around the chest at various points. However bizarre the wearing of straps sounds, doubt not the function! These garments supposedly held a purpose, practical, in fact: to prevent perspiration from running down the body. In other words, straps, in ancient times, served the same purpose as sweatbands do in modern times (especially when one is working out). 

 

 

Tunics

 

Just as aprons are rather hard to prove to have existed during ancient times, so it is for tunics. However, tunics were slightly less mysterious. Ancient Egyptian tunics were somewhat an article of clothing that was a mix between similar dress of the Hyksos and Mesopotamians. According to Herodotus, the ancient Egyptians called tunics calasiris or kalasiris. This term can also be applied to closely fitting dresses known as sheath dresses, which were worn by women. Whatever the actual name for this article of clothing was, the date of its introduction is relatively clearer. Along with other new elements of dress, the tunic appeared in fashion during the New Kingdom. Its appearance was probably due to cross-cultural contacts with other civilizations of the Near East or even due to the invasions of the Hyksos. According to tomb paintings, tunics of both short and long styles were made with or without sleeves and were often crafted of diaphanous linen. Furthermore, it is apparent that loincloths or short skirts were worn under tunics; wrapped skirts could be worn over them. 

 

 

Upper Body Coverings

 

The following are some examples of what sort of upper body coverings an ancient Egyptian might have worn:

 

Animal Skins

 

According to the ancients, if one wore a skin of some ferocious beast, then its powers would transfer to the wearer. In early representations of men's fashion, some men wore leopard or lion skin that was fastened across the shoulders. In later periods, skins were no longer used as much. Rather, one replaced them with fabric. This substitution was solely for general apparel. In general, the wearing of animal skins was reserved for kings and priests, in particular sem priests. In fact, the most characteristic thing about a sem priest is his leopard skin covering. Eventually, skins were no longer worn. Rather, one wore a garment that was fabricated to resemble a real skin. These garments were made of cloth with leopard spots painted onto them. In addition, theses garments came to be of ritualistic usages.

 

Cape-like Garments

 

During the Middle and New Kingdoms, cape-like garments were typically made of short fabric that was fastened at center front.

 

Corselets

 

This garment is not what we know to be a corset. Rather, this type of garment was sleeveless and most likely served as a decorative form of armor. It could be fashioned with or without straps. In cases where corselets were fashioned with straps, they would be small ones, suspended from the shoulders.

 

Wide Necklaces

 

Although necklaces are known to be a type of jewelry, this type of object was used as a cape-like ornament that could be worn alone, over a linen gown, over a short cape, or with a corselet. This garment was made from concentric circles of precious and/or semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian.

 

 

Wrapped Skirts

 

Throughout all of ancient Egyptian history, the most prominent type of male garment was the wrapped skirt. Some names given to this garment are schenti, shent, skent, or schent. Once can also refer to a wrapped skirt as a kilt to distinguish it from those worn by women. However, using this term would cause confusion, as it is also a type of garment worn by Scotsmen. The variety of lengths, widths, and fits of such garments were numerous, when one compares all examples of wrapped skirts from different periods and social classes to each other.

The following is a description of derivatives of wrapped skirts:

 

In early periods, wrapped skirts were fashioned to be around knee length, or even shorter and were fashioned to fit closely to the hips. Some skirts were pleated or made with a diagonal line across the front; even though there have been no rounded fabrics found--only squared fabrics--rounding one end of the fabric probably caused this to happen. The way one could make a squared fabric appear rounded would be to take the end of a squared piece of fabric, pull it up to the hips, and tuck the end into the waistband. In other words, the pleated style was achieved through draping.

 

During the Middle Kingdom, wrapped skirts are shown to have been longer; some were ankle-high. However, shorter versions of the wrapped skirt during this time appear to have been employed by workers, soldiers, and/or hunters. From this time until the New Kingdom, double skirts were also is use. The under skirt was opaque and the outer layer was made of diaphanous material. This type of garment, especially the outer layer, has also been seen fashioned with pleats.

 

During the New Kingdom was the introduction of pleated skirts--a characteristic of both short form-fitting and long full skirts. In some examples, New Kingdom skirts were constructed of triangular panels--most likely for decoration--and were located at the front of these skirts.
















Bibliography:

 

Tortora, Phyllis and Keith Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume:  A History of

     Western Dress. 3rd ed. New York:  Fairchild Publications, 1998.

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Latest Update: December 17, 2007 at 10:10 am

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