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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Byzantine Clothing

Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) evokes images of golden domes and lavishly furnished villas. Not to be outdone, the women during this period wore richly ornamented garments, weighed down with rubies, pearls, and precious gems.
Fabrics for most people were sewn from undyed linen and undyed wool. Upper class garments were frequently made of patterned fabrics, including silk and stiff brocade. Designs were mostly geometric, but the embroidery and jewels were what made this clothing distinct from other periods in history.
Just as in earlier centuries, the basic underlayment for Byzantine clothing was the tunic, woven individually on a loom, as were the trim, stripes and medallions.
The stola and palla were still worn by women, but during the 11th to 13 c. they became more heavily jeweled, representing the garments we think of today as Byzantine.
Mosaics and paintings show us the superhumeral, a heavily jeweled collar worn by royalty and priests(see Theodora's attendant, far left)..
Purple was reserved for the emperor, as were red shoes, usually decorated with golden scrolls.
One look at a Byzantine mosaic will make one wonder how they could walk in such richly designed garments.
Some good Byzantine research sites are and


The Beading Gem said...

Woo Hoo!! I just stumbled upon your blog and love it. I have just subscribed. I am primarily a jewelry artisan and instructor but I adore history too and write many historical posts all tied to jewelry. Please scroll the right side bar for links to historical posts. Here are a couple of past ones you may enjoy given your blog title ;-) :


Linda LaRoque said...

Interesting post, Joyce. I love history and though write western historical, clothing design from all eras fascinate me. I'm so glad I don't live back then and have to wear all that stiff, heavy material. Of course, I'd probably be in the servant class and not have to worry.