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What Clothing Did the Ancient Egyptians Wear?

What Clothing Did the Ancient Egyptians Wear?


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Ancient Egyptian tomb painting and writing reveal a variety of clothing depending on status and activity. There are wrap-around garments for ancient Egyptians made from a length of cloth. These include kilts, skirts, cloaks, shawls, and some dresses. Men might wear aprons - pieces of cloth attached to a belt or band around the waist. Kilts and skirts might be so short that they covered just the hips, or long enough to run from chest to ankles. There are also cut garments, including loin cloths (linen worn by men and women; leather, by men), bag-tunics (worn by men and women), and dresses. They do not seem to be tailored to fit or darted for shaping, although they are sewn together with cords. Meskell suggests that the clingy clothing depicted in tomb painting is more wishful than based on sewing skills.

Most clothing of the ancient Egyptians was made of linen. Sheep's wool, goat hair and palm fiber were also available. Cotton only became common in the 1st century A.D., and silk after the 7th century A.D.

Color, quality of the cloth, and decoration created more expensive varieties. Worn clothing would be reused since clothing was a valuable commodity. Fine linen could be gauzy and cool.

References

  • Lynn Meskell's Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt.
  • Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, by Paul T. Nicholson and Ian Shaw.


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