Friday, April 13, 2012

Cloaked in mystery

Persians didn't wear cloaks as we know them from Greek and other European costumes, or even those of Asian peoples subject to the Persians, such as the Cappadocians.  Instead, an adaptation of the overcoat was worn with the cavalry costume, with the sleeves loose as if it were a cloak.  This garment is consistently portrayed from Persepolis all the way down to the Alexander Sarcophagus over a century and a half later.  The Greeks referred to it as a kandys (pl. kandyes).

It had a straight hem falling almost to the ankle, and a broad border around the neck and front edges.  It must have been secured by being tied at the neck with a band or pinned to the shoulders of the tunic.  The ends of the sleeves sometimes appear to have had mitten-like hand covers, or otherwise just broad cuffs.  Xenophon claims the sleeves were only used in the presence of the king, since they were so long as to prevent the wearer from using his hands (presumably as a way of preventing assassination attempts).  However, it can likewise be presumed that the kandys evolved from a functional coat, and may have been worn as such in cold weather.  According to Margaret Miller (Athens and Persia in the 5th Century BC), it was generally made of leather and trimmed with fur.

Out of all the figures in cavalry costume at Persepolis, only a few of them wear the kandys.  Thus it was probably something of a status item, not an essential part of the ensemble, and XMFM won't require anyone to have or wear one.  I would, however, encourage anyone who has the wherewithal to try making one.

Next up:  slaves in the Persian empire.

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