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Costume in ancient Assyria

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Costume in ancient Assyria

Feb-15-2001 at 11:06 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Costume in ancient Assyria
by Fred Aprim

The Assyrian artist applied conventional terms in his representation of costumes. Simplicity was always resorted to in depicting fashion details, so that we tend to believe that the original costumes were more complex than displayed by the sculptor. The artist took great pains in portraying the decorative patterns, which ornamented garments, but left to us a host of queries as regards fashion. It is difficult to know with exactitude what articles of clothing were worn in addition to outer garmentsparticularly those, which covered the shoulders, the limbs and the breast. Another feature overlooked by the Assyrian artist was the depiction of folds on dress. But there is no doubt that the Assyrian costumes represent a development from those of Babylonia.

Cutting Out
The knee-length and full-length tunics with short sleeves are the commonest dresses worn to different types of headdress. And we can say that practically there were only two types of garment generally found in the representations of ancient Assyrian costume:
1. The shawl, and
2. The tunic.
These vary in size and proportion, and are worn either alone, but more generally in combination.

Except in earliest examples, decoration is lavish in Assyrian costume, in fact, the costume of a king when at its richest may be said to be absolutely covered with ornament. Jewelry, woven and embroidered patterns, and fringes are used in the utmost profusion.
See the illustrations of the most characteristic ornamental details of this style.

Material of clothing
The most common material for clothing was wool, although linen had been known from an early period and was often used for better-quality garments. Cotton did not become available until Sennacherib introduced it into Assyria in about 700 BC, from which time it was used for the making of cloth. Other materials sometimes used were leather and papyrus. The skins and furs of animals and metal were also in use, but chiefly for military and hunting costume.

The earliest type of costume here is a rather elaborate shawl drapery worn without any tunic underneath. Later comes the tunic with various-fringed shawl draperies worn in addition, and some of the latest types have the tunic worn alone without the shawl draperies. The dates given for the costumes illustrated in this style have been verified at the British Museum. It should be remembered, as in the case of ancient Egyptians costume, that the dresses changed very slowly indeed, and most styles of this era were worn literally for hundreds of years.

The difference in men and women dress
The representations of costume which Assyrian art has left us are almost entirely those of mens dress. Two examples of womens dresses are shown here. The first wears a plain ungirded tunic and a simply draped shawl covering the figure partially. The second is a dress of a Queen, and has the tunic almost entirely covered with a voluminous shawl. The wide belt with narrow belt over it seems to be confined to the mens costume, as also the tighter and scantier shawl draperies, which exist in singular variety.

Coloring in costume
Though we do not possess the actual specimens of these costumes, still we can infer from the lavish ornament and, from references in the Old Testament writings that rich coloring prevailed. The dyes were probably similar to those of ancient Egypt, and this table will suggest the particular hue of each color:
Blue: Usually rather dark indigo, sometimes paler.
Red: Much like the color known as Indian red.
Yellow: Similar to yellow ochre.
Green: Much like the paint known as green bice, but rather more dull.
Purple: Dark, and quite a brownish hue of purple.
All these colors could be used as embroideries on a white or natural colored ground of linen, the embroideries being of wool. In other cases the whole garment might be colored throughout.

Assyrian Characteristics
Some of the Assyrian Characteristics may include:
The sacred tree
Repeated patterns and borders on costumes
Various types of rosettes much used in Assyrian decorations
These would be either woven or embroidered.

Details of decorations
Assyrian decorations is rich and may include:
Various forms of Tassels
Winged globe
Palm tree
Lappet (kings tiara)
Sword handles

Assyrians generally wore sandals. However, high boots were introduced during the Sargonid period, and in the time of Sannacherib bushkins were known.

H. W. F. Saggs, The Might That Was Assyria
M. G. Houston & F. S. Hornblower, Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian & Persian Costumes
Dr. Isa Salman, Director General of Antiquities Baghdad, Iraq, Assyrian Costumes

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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