Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ancient Clothing and Appearances Musing

Ancient clothing has some tough problems and some easy ones. Tough are the surface area calculations. There is not enough data in modern clothes comparisons online to gain a better idea of how much cloth. Once you know how much material, it becomes a simple matter of substituting it.

I really like how simple clothes can be and how much economics functions around it. Cloth, back in the day has always been a laborious and complex processes. Fabric being prone to wear and tear of use made it constantly replaced asset.

Climate and Weather has a lot to do with clothing. The pattern becomes really easy to see when you look at ancient peoples and realize flaxen linen was very difficult to make and ate up farm land that could be used for food production.

How "clothy" people were back then was a measure of status. Keep in mind that ancient peasants tend to own tunic and made up for their presentation by cleaning up and making simple woven decorations of colorful flowers and woody vines. While your tunic was being washed, you walked around in your loin cloth.

In many pictorials, loin cloth was what many men wore. In some cultures, this was the same for women. If you see a tunic, a simple sleeveless long shirt with broad shoulder cuts that act as make shift short sleeves, that person is a peasant. The condition, given how linen was thicker but of poorer weave, allowed these clothes to be durable at the cost of discomfort.

The tunic, or the shirt as simple as we can imagine it: a long square cloth folded like a poncho, but narrower. it was just enough to cover the torso and stitched up on the sides. Imagining the variations is not so hard when you really need to skimp on cost a lot. In the end, everyone tends to fall in the dominant strategy or most effective pattern: the tunic.

Women wore tunics. Would they have the luxury of gender differences in clothes? Both genders wore the same things. Children were naked until a relative or neighbor was kind enough to give them a spare set.

Footwear was woven in straw. One good example is Redcliff where Liu Bei makes straw shoes for his marching men. Anyone in a village can just get a piece of foot shaped wood and weave a shoes and sandals from long fibrous grass.

Other than sandals, there are a ton of other things people weave for practical use. Baskets, backpacks, pouches, satchels, sacks...etc. Strangely what I don't see in Ancient near-eastern pictorials are woven hats.

Its funny that the costume of the ages was being more fleshy and with less and less clothes. It is no surprise, hand and body painting, tattoos, scarring, piercing, branding, body alterations and make up were ways to spice things up. A more authentic look is less, and more "permanent" art.

Come to think of it, cultural aesthetics like foot binding, head shaping, circumcision, piercing, tattooing could be a cultural feature to be identified as from one race. That just gave me an idea that Ear clipping, could make a bunch of humans "elven". Imagining Nobles with Neck-elongating rings giant eunuchs, enlarged earlobe, and dental alterations. Albinism, which is enhanced by incest breeding could be a special trait of a particular aristocratic house.

The frequency for genetic diseases from incest, particularly those that create schizophrenia, psychopathy, and compulsive disorders can make aristocratic houses frightening asylums. A quick google for odd diseases is a treasure chest of memorable character traits. How about an "oracle" who cries tears of blood or other psychosomatic induced physical manifestations of stimgata and other biological manifestations. (roll Will power please!) A few more: hair loss, blackening nails, hair becoming white, pupils losing color, traumatic blindness, retinas turning blood red, green blood, discoloration from a mineral imbalance... etc. etc...


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