Headwear of the Byzantine Empire

^B ike so much of their costume tradition, the Byzantines inherited their basic hairstyles and forms of headwear from the Romans who preceded them in ruling the Mediterranean world. Men tended to wear their hair short and cut straight across the forehead in what is today known as the Caesar cut, named after the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar (100—44 B.C.E.). Women wore their hair quite long and tended to braid or pile it on top of their head in a variety of different fashions. They might use pins or a ribbon to hold their hair in place. There wasn't one typical Byzantine hairstyle for women, but instead a variety of ways of curling, twisting, and molding hair in pleasing ways.

Byzantines did not have a strong preference for specific forms of headwear, though there are several hats and crowns that appear to have been in use. Several hats inherited from the Greeks were worn, including the Phrygian cap and the petasos. Both male and female members of the Byzantine court, including the emperor, did wear a variety of crowns, usually heavily laden with jewels. Perhaps the most distinctive headwear worn in the Byzantine era was that worn by members of the Christian clergy. Clergymen often wore a round skullcap called a zucchetto, with the color depending upon whether they were a bishop, a cardinal, or a monk. A similar hat is worn by notable figures in the Roman Catholic Church to this day, with the pope's white zucchetto being the most famous example. Finally, monks might wear a kind of paludamentum, or cloak, with a hood pulled up over their head to keep them warm.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Houston, Mary G. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Costume and Decoration. Lanham, MD: Barnes and Noble, 1977.

Turbans

Images Roman Turbans
Ottoman Turk Osman I wearing a turban. The turban was worn by both Byzantine men and women, and when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Turks too began wearing the turban.

A headdress with ancient roots, the turban is made from a long strip of cloth, most often cotton or silk, which is wrapped around the head, usually in a specific pattern. The turban frequently covers the whole head, concealing the hair from view, and sometimes the cloth is wrapped around a turban cap rather than directly around the head. Some experts believe that the turban originated in Persia, modern-day Iran, while others think that it was invented by the Egyptians. However, the use of the turban first became widespread during the years of the Byzantine Empire (476-1453 C.E.), and since that time turbans have been strongly identified with Eastern cultures and religions.

The Byzantine Empire was characterized by a blend of Eastern and Western cultures, and one symbol of this blending was the adoption of the Persian turban by Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337 C.E.). The turban was worn by both Byzantine men and women, and in 1453, when the Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the Turks, too, began to wear the turban. Though turbans often have great religious or political meaning in the cultures in which they are worn, during various periods certain Westernized turbans have become popular as women's fashion accessories.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Houston, Mary G. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Costume and Decoration. Lanham, MD: Barnes and Noble, 1977.

Tulips, Arabesques, and Turbans: Decorative Arts from the Ottoman Empire. New York: Abbeville Press, 1982.

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    What ancient athenian people wore?
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    What the ottoman wore?
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    What is the meaning of julius caesar turban?
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    What did theey wear in the byzantine empire?
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