Ancient Egyptian Clothes
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HOW LINEN WAS MADE
In Ancient Egypt, women were predominately in charge of textile manufacturing and garment making. Garment making was a household chore, but woman also worked for aristocrats in spinning and weaving shops. Every garment from the decorative dresses of queens and the elaborate, pleated kilts of the pharaohs to the simpler kilts and aprons of the common people were handmade by woman.
The tools involved in garment making include knives and needles, both of these needed to be molded, shaped or craved. In predynastic times, knives were made out of stone and the needles were made from bones. However, during the Old Kingdom, they were both made out of copper. Then, in the Middle Kingdom, bronze replaced the copper. Knives and needles were molded. Surprisingly, the eyes of needles were not bored. They were "scratched out with a hard, pointed instrument, probably a stone." With these tools and linen, garments were fashioned to suit the needs of the people based on climate and the social status.
All men, from the tomb worker to the pharaoh, wore a kind of kilt or apron that varied in length over the years, from halfway above the knee, to halfway below it. It was tied at the front, folded in at the side, or in two knots at the hips. A sleeved, shirt-like garment also became fashionable. Men were always clean-shaven, they used razors made from bronze to shave their beards and heads. Women wore straight, ankle-length dresses that usually had straps that tied at the neck or behind the shoulders. Some dresses had short sleeves or women wore short robes tied over their shoulders. Later fashions show that the linen was folded in many tiny vertical pleats and fringes were put at the edges.
The wealthy people both men and women wore long see-through robes that were pleated. Noblemen would sometimes wear a long robe over his kilt, while the women wore long pleated dresses with a shawl. Some kings and queens wore decorative ceremonial clothing with feathers. Wealthy people wore sandals made of leather that had straps across the instep and between the first and second toes.
Clothing styles were chosen for comfort in the hot, dry climate of Egypt, while in the winter, wraps and cloaks were worn.
The Egyptians cared about their appearance a great deal. The women spent a lot of time bathing, rubbing oils and perfumes into their skin, and using their many cosmetic implements to apply make-up and style their wigs. Using a highly-polished bronze hand mirror, a woman would apply khol, a black dye kept in a jar or pot, to line her eyes and eyebrows, using an "brush" or "pencil" made of a reed. Men wore this eye make-up as well, which was not only a fashion but also protected against the eye infections which were common in Egypt. They would use a dye called henna to redden their nails and lips. Wigs were worn by men and women. Wigs were made from human hair or wool. They wore curled wigs for special occasions.
Egyptians adorned themselves with as much jewelry as they could afford. Wealthy people wore broad collars made of gold and precious stones liked together, which fastened at the back of the neck. Pairs of bracelets were worn around the wrist or high on the arm, above the elbow. Rings and anklets were also worn. Women wore large round earrings and put bands around their heads or held their hair in place with ivory and metal hair pins. Ordinary people wore necklaces made of brightly colored pottery beads.
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