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Clothing Of The Phoenicians

( Originally Published 1928 )

They antedated the Jews in Canaan, a country lying along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and were noted for textile fabrics, embroideries and purple dyes, the last obtained from the murex, a shellfish found on the Phoenician coast and which is said to have yielded the famous Tyrian purple.

Besides inventing the art of phonetic spelling, the Phoenicians were great mariners and largely responsible for distributing universally the products of different countries, such as silk, wool, linen and cotton, thus being an important factor in the history of clothes.

The Tunic.—The Jews wore long, tight-fitting tunics with armholes or wide sleeves (made in one piece without seams, according to Josephus), having a large opening at the neck extending from breast to back. For the rich, tunics were of handsome materials, the borders bound in bright contrasting colors ; also of linen, always a notable fabric among the Israelites. Cotton and wool mixed were used by the poor.

The Mantle.—The outer garment consisted of a piece of square cloth, voluminous enough to permit of wrapping about the body. In very ancient times a fold could be pulled over the head for protection.

Turbans were adopted later in imitation of the head covering so popular throughout the East.

Sandals were worn.

Women.—Their dress was colorful and as rich in deco-ration as its wearer could afford. The women of the household spun and wove the materials used for the family wardrobe. Embroidery was much used as ornamentation; clothes dyed blue, purple and scarlet are frequently mentioned in the Bible.

The Hair.—The Jews shaved their heads and beards in time of mourning, repentance or distress and in certain ceremonies of purification. At other times long, flowing beards were considered not only beautiful but dignified. Taking a man's beard in your hand and kissing it was an intimate act signifying love or the utmost respect. In great grief the beard was torn or neglected, while being deprived of it by force stood for degradation and servility. For many references to the beard, see the Bible.

Fragrant ointments were applied to the hair of the men; women braided, perfumed and decorated theirs. The tires alluded to by Ezekiel are thought by some to be ornaments for the hair, crescent in form; others hold that the tires mentioned in Judges and by Isaiah were used to adorn the neck. There would seem to be good reason for this last opinion, as necklaces of crescent-shaped pendants are common among Oriental people to this day. These tires were worn not only by men and women but also hung about the necks of camels.

Bracelets and armlets, usually large and often of great value, were very popular with both sexes.

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