Clothing

Ancient Egyptian Clothing

     When it came to clothing and fashion, Egyptians were very original. They did not settle for just one or two big pieces of cloth, they would cover their entire body in jewels, vibrant colored clothing and heavy crowns of pure gold. The only area of their body that may not have been covered were their feet which was sometimes occupied by leather sandals.

     Both men and women wore tunics (long t-shirt-like pieces of cloth that would fall down to the men’s knees and women’s ankles) which were sewn for their body personally. Their clothing was most likely made of linen and were nearly always white. The men’s clothing was mainly skirts and ‘tube tops’. Women however wore long dresses.

     Linen, the most common material used in Ancient Egyptian times, was made by the Egyptians themselves. These are the steps to making linen:

  1. Almost all clothing was made from linen which was made from flax.

  2. Flax: a plant having small leaves, blue flowers and stems about two feet tall.

  3. Flax was pulled out of the ground, not cut.

  4. This backbreaking work was done by mostly men.

  5. Half-pipe flax stems made the best thread.

  6. If the stems were too ripe, they were used for rope and mats.

  7. Flax stems were soaked for several days.

  8. The fibers were separated.

  9. Then the fibers were beaten until soft.

  10. The spinner attached the fibers to the spindle.

  11. The fibers were twisted into strong thread.

  12. The weaving was done on a loom.

  13. A loom is a frame made of two beams held by four pegs in the ground.

  14. White linen needed constant washing. It was washed in the river or canal, rinsed, then pounded on a stone, and, bleached in the sun.

  15. Linen clothing needed to be re-pleated every time they were washed.

  16. To do so they pressed the linen into grooves on a wooden board and let it dry.  

 A piece of natural linen

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     Make – up was also a big factor in Egyptians everyday life. Both genders made up their lips and eyes.

  • Eyes were rimmed, eyebrows were painted and lashes were darkened with a black powder called kohl.
  • The red cheek powder was called ochre.
  • They used henna to redden their nails and hair.
  • They would mix powdered minerals with oils to get colors.
  • At parties women wore a cone of scented fat that slowly melted making their heads smell nice.  

Men and women wore both blue and green eyeliner and heavy black eyeliner for special occasions. 

 An antique painting of Egyptian women putting on make-up.

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     Hair was also one of the most important factors in the Egyptian’s wardrobe. Men wore their hair short, and had no beards or mustaches, while women grew their hair down to their shoulders.

     The men and women would each wear a new wig everyday. The wigs were either made from human hair or wool. The curled wigs or curly haired wigs would be saved for special occasions.

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     The workers in Ancient Egypt wore clothes of lesser value. They would wear loincloths* made of animal hide and linen. They also wore simplistic tunics. However most slaves worked naked.

A picture of slaves and farmers working in a field.

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     Like most civilizations, the wealthy wore much more ‘efficent’ clothes. Men or women wore see-through robes that were pleated. They did not show off their wealth by wearing more jewelery than others but by wearing jewelery that is made of gold. Also, they would wear the clothes that is the most transparent.

This is a gold necklace that has been preserved since the Ancient Egyptian times. It is likely that this was worn by royal Ancient Egyptians.

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     The most unusual clothing in the Ancient Egyptian times were worn by the Priests. The Priests would bathe several times a day in order to remove all of their body hair (it is considered impure and without all hair removed they cannot approach the Gods.) and were also not allowed to wear leather sandals or clothes made of wool (again, considered unclean). When serving Amun**, they were to wear a leopard robe. Also, in many cults (churches), Priests would not wear wigs.

 This is an Ancient Egyptian Goddess.

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*loincloths – a piece of material fastened around the waist and worn by men.

**Amun – an Egyptian God; Amun was the name of deity or God , in Egyptian mythology, who gradually rose to become one of the most important deities, before fading into obscurity.  

Written by…Bhavan Panghali

    

    

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4 Comments

  1. paige kinley said,

    March 5, 2007 at 11:08 am

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    March 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm

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    March 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm

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  4. Kasl said,

    March 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm

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