Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not to be going barefoot

With the two modes of dress went two types of shoe.  The one worn with the robe appears to have buttoned up the instep with three straps, which hung down both sides of the shoe in long, thin triangles.  It had a visible tongue.  In early art (at Persepolis) this shoe's sole, if it had one, is not shown.

The one worn with the cavalry costume was also ankle-high, but otherwise entirely different; it was tied with a strap around the ankle.  It seems straightforward except for an odd feature:  a strap that branched off the one around the ankle and passed under the heel.  It also lacked a visible sole.  The same basic type is seen as late as the Alexander Sarcophagus, minus the under-heel strap, but with a sole clearly illustrated.

This shoe has no visible seams on the toe or outer side, though it could have been seamed at the back or the inner side.  I don't know if Persian shoes were turnshoes or not; of course this wouldn't be possible if their soles were as heavy as modern leather soles.  A good match for the ankle-strapped shoe is the Viking-period Haithabu or Hedeby shoe, which is available from several makers - Bohemond in Albuquerque, New Mexico makes three styles.  I've finally hunted up a pattern and intend to make my own sooner or later.

Another option is to get a pair of short boots from Minnetonka (obtainable from many distributors).  Cut off the fringe and perhaps file down the heels.  These are comfortable, quicker than homemade and cheaper than Viking repros, but they have several flaws:  The crepe sole wears quickly, the suede picks up dust and can't be wiped clean, and the side openings, apart from being ahistorical, let in sand readily (keep in mind that the Marathon battle reenactments are held on the beach).

If you're not used to wearing flat-soled slippers all day, all these options will require supportive insoles.  I increased the arch support of my Minnetonkas by molding wet tissues under the hollow arches of orthotic inserts.

Parthians and some Scythians wore tall boots in this period; I know of no evidence that Medes or Persians wore them.

Next up:  Society, society...

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