Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Put on some pants!

Sadly, I know of no physical finds of ancient Persian legwear, but that doesn't mean we have to rely on guesswork.

Some of the most important period illustrations come from Persepolis, where Medes and Scythians carry trousers as tribute to Darius the Great.  What makes these images interesting is that they demonstrate that at least some trousers had attached feet, and some reenactors have taken to calling them hose.  This accounts for the unrumpled closeness of trousers at the ankles of anyone wearing Medo-Persian costume, the legs passing into the boots without hanging over the boot tops.

This portrayal is not consistent; there are Greek potteries out of the war period showing trousers that open wide at the ankle.  But in these instances, there's often other differences that often indicate the wearer is not a Mede or Persian:  The famous kylix, that Wikipedia uses to illustrate its Greco-Persian Wars article, shows a hoplite fighting a man in a tall hat with a curled peak and open-fronted jacket, suggesting that he is in fact a Scythian, and the Negro Alabastron group shows two black soldiers in Iranian dress and Greek corselets, presumably Kushite levies, and a white soldier in a Scythian hat.

Most artistic portrayals agree that the trousers should be very close-fitting.  Baggy trousers saw limited use in the Achaemenid period, such as among certain Scythians.  They didn't become the norm in the Middle East until much later.  Unfortunately, I don't know of evidence of knitted fabric (which could account for the snug fit) in this period.

For the time being, XMFM won't require that trousers be footed.  However, if you're portraying a Persian or Mede, they should be as close-fitting as you can make them.  Pending historical evidence, it's up to you what sort of closure to use on your trousers - but if you use something modern, do keep it hidden under your tunic.  Drawstrings are a good simple way to go.  If you join a group near you, they'll probably have standards of their own that may differ from XMFM and will probably be higher.

Next up:  Who's near you?  (first draft)

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