Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The legacy of Etruscan fashion

Etruscan fashion reflected the influence of Ionia and the Near East especially in pointed footwear, soft conical hats, and generally highly decorative patterns. Increased trade with Greece and Magna Graecia resulted in the adoption of long dresses secured at the shoulder by a brooch, light shawls, a long, simple white cloak (himation) with a red or black border, and a short-sleeved tunic (chiton) made from linen.  However, the Etruscans' flamboyant taste was expressed in much more vibrant colors than the Greeks or Romans as indicated by their tomb murals, although scholars think they were depicted in ceremonial finery rather than everyday dress. The clothing of both men and women often featured lavish embroidery. The Greek scholar Posidonius observed that even the clothing of Etruscan entertainers was "more beautiful than is fitting for slaves" (Heurgon, 172).

It was the Etruscans who ultimately gave the basic toga, known as the trebenna, to the Romans, although the Romans would lengthen it and change the drapery of the folds.

I highly recommend Mark Cartwright's detailed article on Etruscan clothing:


 Conceived primarily in two dimensions—front and rear silhouette—this small bronze dancer probably once belonged to an elaborate candelabra or incense burner. The exaggeratedly long fingers and pointed shoes characterize the work as Etruscan, as do the stylized folds of the figure’s dress, which add visual interest but not verisimilitude. While her right hand holds above her head a cylindrical support, her left squeezes a small object, perhaps a fruit or clapper. - Cleveland Art Museum

Image: Etruscan Candelabrum Stand of a Dancing Maenad 525-500 BCE at the Cleveland Art Museum in Cleveland, Ohio courtesy of the museum.

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