Ancient Egypt - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Ancient Egypt is one of the most studied and best known of the early civilizations. With its great pyramids and temples that have survived to the present day, and with the fascinating mummies found in tombs filled with riches and lined with hieroglyphs, or picture drawings, ancient Egypt provides a fascinating historical record.

Unraveling the Mystery of Hieroglyphs - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Egyptian Clothing - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The ancient Egyptians were the first human society to have an identifiable sense of style in clothing. From Egypt's earliest beginnings around 3100 B.C.E.

Kalasiris - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The single most distinctive and important garment worn by women throughout the history of ancient Egypt was the kalasiris, a long linen dress. From the earliest depictions of women at the beginning of the Old Kingdom in around 2700 B.C.E.

Loincloth and Loin Skirt - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The most basic garment of clothing for Egyptian working men was the loincloth or loin skirt. The climate in Egypt was very hot.

Penis Sheath - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The penis sheath was an essential element of men's costume in ancient Egypt. This strategically placed strip of cloth was worn, not out of modesty as we might assume, but to protect what was considered a vital and sacred organ from environmental elements, working hazards, as well as troublesome insects and tropical diseases.

Schenti - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The schenti, or kilt, was the basic garment of the Egyptian nobleman, or upper class, from the earliest days of the Old Kingdom (c. 2700–c.

Tunic - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Ancient Egyptian clothing remained relatively unchanged for over two thousand years, with one important exception: the introduction of the tunic, a simple garment that covered the upper body. Egypt's hot climate meant that wearing clothing on the torso was not necessary, and throughout the Old Kingdom (c.

Egyptian Headwear - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The ancient Egyptians cared very much about their appearance. They wore finely tailored and flattering clothes and took great care of their bodies.

Headdresses - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Egyptian aristocrats and pharaohs, or emperors, wore a wide variety of headdresses. Egyptians often wore wigs to protect themselves from the heat of the climate, and they likely wore headdresses for the same reason.

Pschent - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

The single most important piece of headwear in all of Egyptian history was the pschent, the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Historians believe that Upper Egypt (surrounding the upper Nile River in the south of present-day Egypt and in Sudan) and Lower Egypt (most of present-day Egypt) were united in about 3100 B.C.E.

Wigs - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Upper-class Egyptian men and women considered wigs an essential part of their wardrobe. Wearing a wig signaled a person's rank in Egyptian society.

Egyptian Body Decorations - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Ancient Egyptians took great care with their bodies, from the way they dressed to the ornaments that they wore. The many ways that Egyptians decorated their bodies reveal their fascination with appearances.

Collars and Pectorals - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

While the people of ancient Egypt mostly wore plain white linen clothing of simple design, this did not mean that they had no love of adornment. Two of the most notable items of jewelry worn in ancient Egypt were collars and pectorals, both types of heavily jeweled necklaces.

Fragrant Oils and Ointments - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

"The Egyptians," write fashion historians Michael and Ariane Batterberry in Fashion: The Mirror of History, "were as clean as any people in history." They bathed regularly, shaved their bodies of any excess hair, including that on the head, and used fragrant oils and ointments to keep their skin smooth and sweet smelling. The first female queen of Egypt, Queen Netocris, who is believed to have ruled around 2170 B.C.E., recommended regular bathing and scrubbing with a paste of clay and ashes.

Jewelry - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

One of the most important ways that people in ancient Egypt showed their wealth and status was through the display of jewelry. In the early stages of Egyptian civilization known as the Old Kingdom (c.

Kohl - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Kohl is a black powdery substance made from galena, an ore that is the source of the mineral lead. Galena ore was found near the Nile River at the city of Aswan, in present-day southeast Egypt, and on the banks of the Red Sea, among other places.

Egyptian Footwear - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

For more than half of the recorded history of ancient Egypt there is almost no record of the use of footwear. The main source of evidence for this period, the pictorial stories found in tombs known as hieroglyphs, showed every class of person, from the ruling pharaoh (king or queen), to the lowly worker, going barefoot.

Sandals - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

One of the very earliest hieroglyphs, or picture stories of ancient Egypt found preserved in tombs, shows a sandal maker accompanying King Menes, the Egyptian ruler who united Upper and Lower Egypt in about 3100 B.C.E. Despite this evidence, most hieroglyphs show that Egyptians during the Old Kingdom period (c.

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