Ancient Egypt: Clothing & Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian wrap dress
Ancient Egyptian wrap dress
A kalasiris was the most important garment worn by women throughout the history of Ancient Egypt.

For three thousand years almost all clothing worn by the ancient Egyptians was of linen, made from flax grown in Fthe Nile Valley. The fabric suited the hot climate because it was cool and airy. Clothes were very simple in shape, with minimal cutting of cloth. Men wore a schenti cloth wrapped around the hips which hung in folds in front. Women wore a kalasiris (sheathlike dress), often with detachable sleeves. The mss (bag-shirt) was worn in the Middle Kingdom and later became general wear for men, women, and children.  The silhouette was influenced by two key factors: the fineness and finish of the linen—either left with a natural crimp after laundering, or (in the New Kingdom) arranged in crisp pleats—and by the wearing of decorative collars and belts. These accessories were rich in color and texture.

Ancient Egypt Neck piece
Ancient Egyptian Neck piece – 24 carat gold, turquoise, coral, enamel (Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York)

Jewelry was worn from top to bottom by wealthy Egyptian men and women—and even by their sacred animals.  Always colorful, the pieces featured motifs from the world, including green palm leaves, white lotus flowers, yellow mandrake fruits. Gold came from Nubia (present- Ethiopia), and silver was rarer and more expensive than Semiprecious stones included lapis lazuli (imported from Afghanistan), green and red jasper, amethyst, cornelian,turquoise, and quartz. Glass and glazed composite were used to imitate precious stones. Steatite, a soft stone, carved into small objects, including pendants and scarabs.

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