Byzantine Garb Basics

Heads up! This page is getting reorganized, but right now, enjoy a link dump to pertinent posts regarding clothing.

For the post containing my sewing patterns for a tunica (kamision) and dalmatica (delmatikion), go here.

For my post on the “Tunic Under the Stairs” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, go here.

For the post about the short stola/kolovion as depicted in the Bamberger Gunthertuch tapestry, go here.

For my post on cloaks with patterns, go here.

For my post on shoe color regarding rank in period versus the SCA, go here.
Upcoming content outline (because it’s easier for me to get it down here than on paper or in Word somewhere and lose it.)

Introduction to the three periods of Byzantium
-Early
-Golden Age (This is my period)
-Late/Palaiologian

Common Vocabulary Terms

What aristocratic men and women wore in the 11th/12th Century (photo gallery)

Basic Sewing Patterns
-Esoforion (body linen)
-Kamision/Himation (Basic tunic)
-Persomanikion/Divistesion (“Persian sleeved” tunic)
– Dalmatica/Delmatikion (oversized tunic/gown)
-Gunthertuch Kolovion (Woman’s sleeveless tunic dress)
– Mandyas, Sagion, and Khlamys (mantles)

Accessories

Other Photos

Primary Sources for different periods

Secondary Sources and suggested readings

6 thoughts on “Byzantine Garb Basics

  1. I have no idea if this site is updated, but I wanted to let you know that you are saving my Scadian life with this. I love Byzantine dress and dabble in jewelry and embroidery some but I haven’t played in two years due to Mundane stuff. I really want to get to Fall Coronation (Kingdom of Trimaris) in a fantastic outfit and was having a hard time finding good descriptions and patterns for Byzantine (11th century or so). You are a life saver I tell ya. I would be thrilled if there were any tips, patterns, etc you would share beyond this… maybe hints for bigger girls (thats me). Thank you.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Yes, I do update my site, but this page is a wee bit stagnant and will be updated very soon! I have all sorts of new patterns and analyses to post, but I’m glad I’ve been able to help so far. Please feel free to email me at syrakousina@gmail.com, and I will do my best to get you in the right direction for your perdy coronation garb! I’m in Trimaris at the moment for the holidays, but I’m headed back north Monday. I grew up in St. Pete. 🙂

  2. I have 2 questions… I’ve seen the superhumeral in images of women other than royalty, unless what I’m seeing is not actually a superhumeral. So is it conceivable that this was a piece worn by most mid- to upper-class people? Where would I be able to find some documentation on that piece? And 2, were colors gender specific? In other words, could I wear navy blue satin? (or is satin not a common 11th century byzantine period weave?)

    1. Thanks for the questions!

      First and foremost, the superhumeral was seen on all classes, including dancers (the lowest of the lowest class.) In this manuscript, the dancer in the middle is wearing what looks like a black superhumeral with beads or byzants of some sort on it. It’s when it’s coupled with the loros for the formation of what we call the ecclesiastical pallium is when it’s imperial only. Imperials ONLY wore the loros, and I recommend reading Maria Parani on the distinctiveness and importance of the loros costume in court dress if it’s something you’re interested in. As far as other classes go, the superhumeral alone is just fine, and shows up more on women than men.

      As far as colors go, nothing is gender specific as far as I know, but certain colors are to be used with discretion as far as modern reenactors go. Such as Tyrian purple, which is a resounding “duh”, but I would also recommend avoiding all reds and indigo if you plan on being solidly middle class. They just couldn’t afford them.

      As far as fabrics go, satin is a weird one. What we know as satin today is not anything remotely a period material. Now, there are silk fabrics that have that sheen which are a better option. Taffeta is a solid period option. Dharma Trading just started offering colored silks on their page, and even though I have yet to see them in person, knowing the quality of their stuff, I’d like to say that their crepe satin is probably a fine choice, but I would get a sample first. Please for your health avoid polyester and other synthetic modern “satins”. you will die in the heat and freeze in the cold. If you can’t afford silk, look at linen and wool, which are perfectly fine period choices. Shiny? no, but shiny can be added. Most of my garb is not solid silk, I would go broke. 😉

      1. Thank you so much for the information! I’d like to find the book you wrote about (I see you mention it often and it seems like something that would greatly help me). So I will lay off the satin, but I have a nice piece of blue linen or light blue shantung…

      2. The book you seek is called “Reconstructing the Reality of Images”. It’s EXPENSIVE, so please see if you can get it through interlibrary loan before shelling out the $300 like I did. However, it’s become my Bible. My latest blog post on shoe color contains information from that book.

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