ELEGANCE OF BYZANTIUM
This report focuses on the garments worn by the Nobles, especially the Emperors and Empresses during the Byzantine Empire period, and the society, environment and political necessity that influence the type of clothing worn in that period.
The Byzantine Empire survived the 5th Century fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell in 1453. During most of it existence, This Empire with its capital, Constantinople was the global seat of commerce, culture and fashion. The Byzantine Empire developed on a base of Greek culture, Roman law and the new religion, Christianity (Bigelow 2000, pp. 105).
The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great in the year of AD 330, founded the Byzantine Empire. The capital of this empire was named after himself and was called Constantinople (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 83). Amongst the rulers, Justinian I and his wife, Theodora are the most famous because of their love of ceremony and taste for opulence- personify the ornate Byzantine style (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 84).
Christianity played a large part in Byzantine clothing styles. Clothing was symbolic of stature and rank (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 86). The colors and opulent decorations on the paraliturgical garments which emperors, bishops, empresses, eunuch, and court members used, clearly marked class, status and individual power. However, it was believed that by wearing figure-concealing garments, each individual subordinated his or her own identity to the higher identity of the church. The color purple was used exclusively by emperors but a full range of vibrantly colored silks other than purple was available to the rest of the court and aristocracy (Bigelow 2000, pp. 107).
In early Byzantium Upper-class men wore clothes with a Roman influence. The Byzantine wore clothing that was simple in shape and had a number of layers (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 87-89). Toga worn by Constantine was designed after the pattern used by Roman Consuls The emperor’s toga was purple silk with a gold tablion encrusted with pearls (Bigelow 2000, pp. 111). Until the 6th century A.D most Byzantine citizens wore the toga but later only consuls could wear it and a cloak replaced it (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 89).
T-shaped Tunic and Dalmatica were the most important garments of the time. Most males during period A.D 300 -1453 wore tunic but the gold and jeweled ornamentation altered the paragaudion dramatically when this garment belonged to a member of the nobility. (Bigelow 2000, pp. 109). The dalmatica, a heavier and shorter type of tunic was made of red and gold material could be worn over the tunic or instead of it (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 89).
Byzantine women wore the Roman stola, sometimes two at a time from 400 to 1100. This was a long-sleeved garment with styling features. A palla or mantle could be worn over the stola (Cosgrave 2000, pp. 86). Wealthier women wore stola with more details and embellishments. The