So, behind the vision of ancient Egyptian clothing, Jewelry, and makeup there is much more than Just the impulse to decorate oneself, there is desire to standout in every possible context. The dress of the ancient Egyptian civilization is widely recognized due to its subtle and not-so-subtle differences from other cultures both prior and simultaneous. According to the available evidence from artwork, real objects, and written records, the social structure had great authority over the style of dress amongst the classes. The shape of the ancient Egyptian social has been marred to the shape of a pyramid.
The apex holds the Pharaoh or hereditary king. The level below that holds his chief deputies and high priests. The next level below was for the lesser courts officials and city or town administers. The following lower levels hold the scribes and artisans. At the base of the pyramid were, of course, the slaves (Tractor and Bank 30). Their linen costumes depicted the social class of the wearer and also their economic backstops. So, with one glance at a person’s garments another could easily tell their social standing since there was no cash currency and excites were a form of monetary value.
Cleanliness was also highly standardized due to the hot and uncomfortable climate. The upper classes made a prioritize effort to bathe two or more times a day so to not offend others as the lower and ill-kempt classes were expected to do with their lack of hygienic opportunities. Sometimes, faces and heads were shaved to keep cool and free from vermin and braided wigs were worn as a fashion accessory (31). In modern society similar references, such as cleanliness and fashion, are used to Judge monetary standings of others even though hose Judgments may be proven incorrect at times.
Brand names are worn to signify wealth and, more often than not, social standing. Elite the brand names can mean the person wearing them is well-to-do and in higher social class than those who do not wear the brands. However, as previously mentioned, this might not be the case at all. Modern well-to-dos may choose to wear label-less garments but it does not deduct from their class. The same can be said about the middle or lower classes. In ancient Egypt, the costume “made the man (or woman)” so to speak. If an ancient
Egyptian were part of the hierarchical upper class there would little to no chance he or she would ever be caught dead in garments that suggested otherwise. Artwork from that time period show clear distinctions between the classes by appearance and dress. The upper classes are amortized as being draped in the most sought after fashions of the period. Such styles include but are not limited to: lavish and aprons, vivid and dramatic makeup, brightly colored Jewelry and headdresses. The higher classes were also painted larger in size to symbolize their importance and Ann. In society.
Whereas, the lower classes were painted in smaller size to state their rank and what was considered unimportance. Also, the working classes were depicted in artwork with hair stubble and dirt to show their level on the hierarchy, along with very little dress such as only loincloths and bare feet. Modern society also shows lower classes in such a light. The “homeless” labeled person is typically visualized as being dirty, unshaven, and donning ratty unattractive clothes. A curious fact about the artwork from ancient Egypt is that it presents only slim and slender objects.
A theory to why this was the most common depiction is because the clothing of the period wrapped closer to the body and would reveal any imperfections, so the people themselves would keep a slender shape to avoid this embarrassment. It wasn’t simply Just the style of the artwork (Brier and Hobbs 17) but their vain way of life. Since politics were synonymous with wealth and stature, the kings and pharaohs wore the best of the best fashions. Sometimes their fashions exceeded the current trends and created new ones. For example, buried with King Tutankhamen was gold-beaded footwear and colored (painted) leather footwear.
This was unusual because in paintings and sculptures royalty and the upper classes were shown mostly wearing sandals so a covered slipper-type shoe was a rarity. Tutankhamen had special needs regarding his feet, possibly due to many bone fractures, so special considerations were taken when designing his shoes, such as thicker soles and two different sizes (Brier and Hobbs 129). It is unclear, and probably untrue, if Tutankhamen foot deformities were the cause of the slipper’s popularity amongst the upper class but the fact that royalty wore them most likely helped the trend along.
Besides slippers that partly covered the toe and the top of the foot, other types of shoes were introduced during the many kingdoms of ancient Egypt. These types include: sandals with only straps to hold the sole, ankle boots that covered the ankles and boots that covered the calf. Some of these items were made from plant fibers, papyrus or date palm. Craftsmen used two stages of craft weaving and three principal techniques in the production process. Firstly, fibers had to be weaved gather to obtain a certain sized surface area. Then, it was cut and assembled using one of a variety of different methods to form a shoe.
The most basic technique involved overlapping strips and then assembling them using a seam passed over the top and held in place with a fibrous thread. The second technique used the same overlapping method but diagonally to the lay of the plait. The manufacturing process of these items was similar to that of textiles. The third technique was similar to bound and stitched basketry. The manufacturing process of leather footwear involved three stages: transformation of animal hide into leather, optional decoration of the leather, and then assembly.
The decoration of leather involved a wide variety of techniques. For instance, the material can be stained, pressed (the grain of the damp leather is pressed to leave an imprint), hammered, incised, printed, painted, hemstitched or engraved. The leather may also be decoratively stitched or gilded, such as with Tutankhamen gold-beaded slippers (“The Art of Putting on Shoes in Ancient Egypt”). Times have undoubtedly changed vigorously throughout history and name context. Ancient Egyptians held very high standards of dress for those who could afford it.
The upper levels of society decorated themselves in such a way that surely distinguished them from the lower levels. This practice of standing out in a class crowd was not new at the time and certainly is not dead in today’s world; but the ancient Egyptians had a way of standing out from every culture, modern and ancient included. So next time you see a pleated (or wrapped) dress, beaded ballet flats, brightly colored statement necklaces, or even dramatically-lined smoky eyes, you an thank the ancient Egyptians for their snobbery and lavish taste in being different.
Works Cited “The Art of Putting on Shoes in Ancient Egypt. ” Reunion des musses nationals Grand Appall. N. P. , n. D. Web. 11 Cot. 2012. Web. Brier, Bob, and A. Hoyt Hobbs. Daily life of the Ancient Egyptians. 2nd deed. Westport, Con. : Greenwood Press, 2008. Print. Tractor, Phyllis G. , and Keith Bank. “Chapter Two: The Ancient Middle East. ” Survey of Historic Costume: A History of Western Dress. 5th deed. New York, NY: Fairchild Books, 2010. 30-48. Pant.