Women´s clothes underwent relatively few changes in style in the course
of antiquity. Clothes were normally made at home from locally available wool
or flax (used to make linen). The two most commonly worn garments were the
chiton or tunic and the himation or cloak. The chiton came in two styles.
Its earlier Doric version, preferred by Athenian women until the end of the
6th century BC, was called the peplos and was made of wool. Cut into a simple
rectangle measuring half again the height of the person wearing it, it was
folded over, wrapped around the body, and pinned at the shoulders and side.
It was sleeveless, with large arm openings. Expensive versions were decorated
with elaborate woven figures or designs. The Ionian chiton was made of linen
that fell into more elaborate vertical folds than its heavier wool counterpart.
The sides were sewn up to create a long cylinder which was then caught by
a girdle or cord at the waist or just below the breasts. Short sleeves were
added to the sides.
|Italic Low-Footed Red Figure Bowl with High Handles
4th century BC
On loan, Philadelphia Museum of Art
The most common toilet article appearing on vases is the mirror, usually made of polished silver or bronze. These and a wide variety of cosmetic implements are often excavated in tombs, sanctuaries dedicated to female divinities, and in the domestic quarters of ancient towns.
Photo courtesy Mediterranean Section, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum (99k)
Early 3rd century BC
Standing clothed female figure of possibly Corinthian manufacture, wearing a himation over a floor-length chiton. The himation was a rectangle of wool or linen, often drawn away from one shoulder. The figure´s earrings are well preserved. Traces of white slip cover most of the figure, and rusty red survives in the hair.
H. 20.7; W. 7.6; Th. 5.0 cm. Photo courtesy Public Information Office, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum (99k)