[LMB] Colors

Beatrice Otter beatrice_otter at zoho.com
Mon Jan 10 08:12:34 GMT 2022

---- On Sun, 09 Jan 2022 23:25:09 -0800 M. Haller Yamada via Lois-Bujold <lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote ----

I would guess that having everyone in "the same" uniform was something that rulers were willing to splash out on . . . not sure about for common people, but maybe? 

I don't really think of religious costumes as being uniforms, but they seem quite uniform -- similar styles and fabrics. I googled Egyptian priests, and saw half a dozen priests wearing the same sarongs and costumes in a picture. I believe I've seen pictures of Egyptian servants dressed very similarly. 

I saw a beautiful Minoan "Ancient Greek wall fresco" of three priestesses wearing the same dress, with three stripes down the front and the same border. (Hellenic-art.com, Minoan priestesses II)

A prehistoric painting/silhouette of dancers showed several dancers wearing the same headdresses and butt bustles.  (Pinterest, it seems. CHAUDRON: Prehistoric rock paintings of Libyan and Algerian Sahara. 

I suppose it depends on what the definition of uniforms are. I recently saw (maybe on Atlas Obscura?) servants serving dinner, all dressed in black pointy shoes, tights and really short and very shoulder-paddy tops. (YES! "Why Were Medieval Europeans So Obssessed With Long Pointy Shoes.) Fashion? Or uniform? The styles were identical, even though the colors were different. 


Beatrice Otter:
The difference between armies and the examples you name is that from the fall of Rome until the 1800s, armies were not professional standing forces. You had two basic models: nonprofessional armies where people come together for the war and then disband afterwards (feudal levies, etc.) and mercenaries. The nonprofessional armies, being soldiers/men at arms was only temporary and every lord had their own colors, and knights often had their own devices. So it wasn't worth it to give the rank-and-file a set of clothing solely to wear while they were in the army. Expensive, and they'd have their own clothes anyway. They come with clothes, and probably wouldn't be in the army long enough to wear those clothes out. I mean, some of them would be, but since you don't already have an industry set up to make clothes for soldiers, it's easiest if you expect them to buy/make any clothing they need with their pay. And their commanders wouldn't be uniform, often, because even if they were professional fighters on some level they weren't often fighting together in a big army like that, and each of them had distinctive gear. Mercenary armies ... were usually outfitted on the cheap, and sometimes turned brigand, and would go from one war to another fighting for whoever could pay them. Why bother putting them in a uniform?

Monks and nuns, on the other hand, will be at a particular abbey for life. The abbey has to clothe them. Besides the fact that it's *easier* to just make the same garments over and over again, it's also a sign of humility that they don't have fashionable/distinctive clothes. Servants, again, would be with their master/mistress for years and it was the master/mistress' responsibility to see that they were clothed. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is give them all the same thing.

Beatrice Otter

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