Ancient Egyptian fashion I Curator’s Corner Season 5 Episode 3

Ancient Egyptian fashion I Curator’s Corner Season 5 Episode 3


You might know how to ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ but do you know how to dress like an Egyptian? Hi my name is Amandine Merat I’m an Egyptologist and an expert in ancient Egyptian textiles and welcome to my corner! So today if I tell you ‘Ancient Egypt’ you will tell me ‘Ohh, sculpture from pharaohs temples or maybe ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ – The Bangles (1986) Well I’m going to introduce you to another period of Egyptian history and also another kind of material. Today we are going to say dress like an Egyptian and we’re going to talk about textiles in ancient Egypt from the 7th century to the 15th century AD. Egypt has a long tradition in textile production which dates back to the first millennium BC. Where in other parts of the world textiles haven’t survived thanks to Egypt’s dry climate textiles survive in abundance. Today the British Museum collection of ancient Egyptian textiles comprises around 500 textiles from the first millennium AD roughly. They mainly come from excavations lead at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. They come from graves because from the 2nd century onwards Egyptians stopped mummifying their dead instead burying them in their daily clothes wrapped into furnishing textiles. So the textiles we’ll look at today are both clothing items and furnishing textiles. So this one here is a fragment of a shawl or a furnishing textile it’s difficult to tell. It has been woven in linen the main fibre used in Egypt since 4th millennium BC. As you can see it is decorated with a band here which has been woven with tapestry but this time not in wool as was mostly the case during the so-called coptic period but in silk. This is possible after the Arab conquest because Arabs controlled the silk road and so this makes silk more easily accessible in Egypt. It shows some birds and quadrupeds in vegetal interlacing. This iconography comes back from the classical imagery imported by the Greeks during the arrival of Alexander the Great during the third century BC. However this piece dates to the 7th or 8th century AD and shows the continuation of imagery and iconography throughout the centuries in Egypt. So this piece shows a transition which will continue for example with this piece later on. So this textile has 4 edges preserved They have been sewn underneath and the shape indicates that this is a sleeve of a tunic. What is interesting here is that we can find the same iconography here that we found here which means the vegetal interlacing and medallions which are housing some animal motifs here very much stylized. This inscription doesn’t read anything it’s a pseudo-inscription a pseudo-kufic inscription which is an Arabic script. Such garments bearing such inscriptions are called tiraz. And ‘tiraz’ comes from the Persian word meaning embroidery. and tiraz was used to describe both the clothes produced at the time and also the workshops where they were produced. At first tiraz were easily identifiable because of their inscriptions. So the inscriptions was either naming the kalif or quoting the Qur’an. Later on, especially from the 9-10th century AD tiraz were also just identifiable by these pseudo-inscription lines and they could also be not only embroidered but woven in tapestry like this one. Tiraz were produced to decorate furnishing textiles or garments They were mostly found tunics on the sleeves. And at the time the main item of clothing for men, women and kids alike was the tunic And the tunic could be of two types at this time it could be either the traditional tunic which was adopted after the Roman fashion from the second century AD which is a tunic which was woven in one piece in a T shape folded and sewn along the edges or it could be a tunic which was imported from the 7th century AD after the Arab conquest from eastern countries. And this tunic was made of several pieces of clothe sewn together. So to imagine how this was worn if you look at my jacket for example this part would be that part and this would come up to here and these two ends would be sewn along the edge here. So we are now looking at textiles from the Mamluk period which is roughly 13th century to mid-16th century. So I have 3 textiles in front of me and I’m sure you can already notice some differences from the ones we just had a look at. The main difference with the Mamluk is their taste for geometric decoration and that’s why at this time the main decoration consists of geometric motifs. So for example you can see on this textile tiny, tiny triangle motifs. This textile is a pillow case and it was found in a grave as we can… notice through the stains coming from the humor of the body. Geometric decoration can be found on furnishing textiles but also on clothing items. So in front of me is another example of a sleeve of a tunic This tunic is probably of the type 2 that we described earlier because under the Mamluk’s type 1 is slowly but surely abandoned and men, women and kids only wore tunics made of several pieces of clothe cut and sewn together. But then you will tell me: ‘But hang on, here there is some patterns????’ ‘AND IT’S NOT ONLY GEOMETRIC!’ This is true because under the Mamluk’s one of the most important signs of high rank in society became the blazon. So a blazon is basically a kind of logo for an amir or a prince. For example this blazon has been woven in cotton one of the most used fibres under the Mamluks and it was made to decorate a tent of an amir and it is decorated with a cup and this cup helps us to know that this amir was the ‘cup bearer’ at court which was a very, very high duty under the Mamluks. Thanks for watching my little introduction on fashion in Egypt and textile production. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you’re going to look for these textiles in museums now. If you want to see more Curator’s Corners you can find them here.

100 Replies to “Ancient Egyptian fashion I Curator’s Corner Season 5 Episode 3”

  1. There is something uniquely fascinating in the history of seemingly banale things.
    [I do adore listening to languages being spoken by foreigners, English being spoken by French and Germans, German and French spoken by English speakers, Americans trying their hands at Spanish, I love it all!]

  2. Lovely video. It would be great to see more videos about textiles and fashion in ancient cultures; it is unfortunate that so little survives.

  3. awesome content – i learned much more from this 8 min than all youtube videos i watched the last weeks period

  4. >Ancient Egyptian Fashion
    >Only talks about shit from hundreds and hundreds of years after the fall of “Ancient” Egypt.

    Surely you’ve got some older stuff than this, even something from the—arguably not very Egyptian—Late period would be better than this.

  5. These aren't "ancient Egyptian" fabrics, they're late classical/medieval. There's really no reason to mislead viewers like that.

  6. In the first example (shawl or furnishing textile), would the silk have been in imported as thread and woven locally, or would the ribbon be imported already woven? In the second example (Tiraz tunic sleeve), what kind of loom would have been used to create the woven pseudo-script? Fascinating stuff!

  7. Thank you guys but its BORING!!! With all respect for Ms Amandine. Tell us about Dendera light and how Egyptians made electricity. Tell us about how they made and put huge 50 ton sarcophagus to the narrow tunnels in Serapeum and how they carved them out from hard granite with a CNC precise perfection using only copper tools.

    Tell us about that.

  8. What a really nice name you have. Great video too. I would really like to know more about how clothes where made in the Egyptian time.

  9. Every time this YouTube channel uploads a video, I'm like, these filthy thieves in the UK not only not gonna give those stolen stuff back, but also gonna upload videos about them, educating people about all the things they've stolen from other countries and they've got no shame

  10. I only recently discovered these Curator's Corner videos, and wow are they interesting. Hearing someone that very much loves what they are talking about is always a bonus as well. Outstanding little short snippets of many different subjects throughout history.

  11. so the Egyptians were printing textiles all them years ago very interesting it looks like some of the styles could have been done today

  12. These textiles are beautiful craft work. It must have been really talented artists who made this. Especially the second sleeve. Weaving the textile must have been a work of patience. Making it must have kept them? busy for some weeks … Sadly I’m not from the UK but a long time ago I visited the British Museum to view the Lammasu and many other beautiful artefacts. Given the chance I’d surely come back. The British Museum is fantastic, I could live there in a matter of speaking. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Nothing is new under the sun is perfect for everything. I loved learning that there was branding on textiles similar to Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

  14. Lovely textiles, interesting discussion of fabric production. HOWEVER, every item discussed is from AD, including into the 15-16th centuries…. certainly not from the time of the pyramids BC. Suggest giving this a new title, which includes the know time periods for the textiles .

  15. I hope for more of these types of videos. It's great to see stuff about weapons, religious artifacts, art etc. but these types of videos get me generally more excited. Videos about how people actually lived.

  16. So interesting! I never thought that Egyptian textiles would be so highly decorated. I had always imagined plain linen. It is amazing that the fabric has survived so well all of these many centuries.

  17. A wonderful presentation, very informative, progresses well and professional given. Hoping to see another report from you shortly. Thank you !

  18. Ancient Egyptian seems a bit misleading given the subject, Late Antique Egyptian and Medieval Egyptian is better (one loves to nitpick). Cool stuff though thank you!

  19. I'm only 32 seconds in, and I'm already in love. Please do more of these. And thank you so much for your time and all of the energy you put into providing this for us.

  20. Maybe I missed it, but why pseudo-script? Seems if you’re putting the effort to simulate text, at least make something readable. I’m genuinely surprised it wasn’t some kind of sacred text or prayer, or even the owners name!

  21. I can't understand a word.

    The received English middle-class fascists of the British Museum wouldn't employ a Scouser with a accent you could cut with a knife, but look who gets a free pass.

  22. I appreciate you went out of your way to show us this information. I'm sorry I'm not as appreciative as I should be, however, you basically showed us Non-Egyptian styles that were superimposed onto actually Egyptian styles, and not truly cultural Egyptian styles. I was excited to see true Egyptian styles, and ended up deeply disappointed. Please show us "Egyptian" styles instead next time you claim Egyptian….

  23. Well she's a jolly little sweetheart! If they can put an inscription into a piece of fabric it's probable that we really haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg. Their fabrics must have been amazing.

  24. I would COVET the chance to hear you speak more on the blazons that are in your collection! (or even those that are not) A dictionary of ancient Egyptian blazons would be an absolute dream. Great video and thanks so much for your discipline and sharing!

  25. Wasn't the transition to abstract patterns and text based on the belief that it was an affront to god to create pictures of natural things?

  26. I am loving all these different experts being interviewed and sharing their expertise with us. It's truly inspiring and educational in the best possible way.

  27. I enjoy the content. The presentations might be improved if the presenters would enunciate clearly in English with standard sentence structure and vowel pronunciations. The thick accent and rapid speech result in my inability to understand the sense of the sentence for only one or two word. A pity.

  28. It would be fantastic to see either models or manakins dressed in reproductions of those clothes. That would bring the past to life again.

  29. This was fascinating. I love textiles technology and art. Loved this insight into an area and era I never would have guessed that I would learn about

  30. I bet she knows a lot, but it would be better if she speaks her normal language (I guess French) and using subtitles, at some parts I didn't understood what she was saying because of her thick accent.

  31. These textiles are both beautiful and fascinating, but they are from a time when the Egyptian culture has been swamped by cultures from elsewhere. It would be more interesting to see textiles from the period before Alexander when designs and styles would have been truly Egyptian. Surely there must have been textile remains in undisturbed tombs like Tutankhamun, or even better, from lower class people.

  32. Can we watch you in French, not that your English isn't good. Just curious. Already subscribed(in English, lol,) drole des sous titres en anglais…rr Normandy, France

  33. It should be 'ancient Egyptian'. Egyptians are currently muslim so there's no real Egyptian culture. Just arab. Sad.

  34. Interesting video, I've got to tell you though, it was that little grin that caught my attention. Downright infectious! 😁

  35. Watched twice. First time was just to see the fabrics. Second time was to learn about them. Thank you so much.

  36. This is about the first video I have seen on ancient Egyptian textiles. I was hoping it would be about textiles found in King Tut's tomb because I think quite a bit of clothing and other textiles were interred with him.

    I am surprised I have never found a video describing how people in Tutankhamun's time actually dressed. From wall paintings we get the idea everyone wore flimsy, see-through, pleated white linen garments all the time, with wide jeweled collars and an occasional leopard skin attached for emphasis. I researched clothing found with Tut and could not find much information available. I finally found one site that showed textiles and recreations of Tut's clothes, many of which were colorful or patterned tunics similar to male garments in the Middle East of today. The fabrics were similar to those shown in this Curator's Corner video.

    Were the filmy linen garments court dress, worn for special occasions only, or were they idealized representations of clothing? When, how, why, where were such garments worn, if they were worn at all? Did any of them, or fragments of them survive? There are wall images of Tut or others hunting from boats in the reeds of the Nile, wearing the white linen pleated kilt and jeweled collars. Surely that is inaccurate?

  37. So they were bleaching their hair back then… those are definitely dark skinned people with blonde hair. ^^ I assumed they did and that the red hair of the pharaohs was some kind of chemical lightening, my hair goes through that red stage when I lighten it.

  38. Super interesting! Would have loved to see an illustration of the garments she was speaking about pop up. Of course I can picture a tunic, but a visual would help.

  39. I have many questions I'd like to ask Amandine. Questions about colouring, types of looms, base thread patterns, local textile industry versus imported foreign and more. There's just so much to learn about.
    It's also refreshing to speak to someone who is not only well experienced but also knows the value, historically and culturally, of the pieces being preserved.

  40. Thks for the presentation. I am always CURIOUS are all these objects you shown in this video in the possession of the British Museum obtained legally, ie bought from the open market or presents from Egypt, etc? I have my doubts. A comprehensive answer here is most welcomed.

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