The Minoans, who lived on the Greek island of Crete between 3000 and 1600 b.c.e., had a very complex culture, more advanced than many of the societies that followed it. This complexity is shown in the artistically designed and skillfully made clothing they wore. Much of our knowledge of this clothing comes from artwork that has been found at the sites where the Minoans lived, thousands of years before most recorded history.
The society of ancient Crete was largely unknown to modern people until the late 1800s c.e., when one of their ancient cities was discovered. Until that time most scholars thought that stories of a Cretan civilization ruled by a king named Minos were only legends. As historians began to study the ruins of the ancient Cretan city, they learned that the people who lived there had a richly developed culture with many similarities to modern societies. They called this culture Minoan, after the legendary King Minos in Greek mythology.
Minoans wore a variety of complex garments that were sewn together in very much the same way that modern garments are made. Unlike the classical Greeks who followed them hundreds of years later, the Minoans sewed skirts and blouses that were shaped to the body of the wearer. Crete is located in the southern Mediterranean and has a hot climate, so heavy clothes were not needed. Ancient Minoan men wore only loincloths, which were small pieces of fabric wrapped around the waist to cover the genitals. However, even these small garments were made with much attention to detail. Loincloths were made from a wide variety of materials, such as linen, leather, or wool, and decorated with bright colors and patterns. Many had a decorative pagne or sheath that covered and protected the penis, and some had long aprons in the front and back with tassels or fringe. While early Minoan men usually went bare-chested, in the later years of the Minoan civilization men often wore simple tunics and long robes.
The first modern scholars to study Crete were astonished by the design of the women's costume, including blouses and skirts that closely resembled modern women's clothing. Minoan women wore skirts that flared out from the waist in a bell shape, with many decorations attached to the cloth. Later designs were made from strips of fabric, sewn in ways that created rows of ruffles from waist to ankle. Women also wore close-fitting blouses that were cut low in the front to expose the breasts. A tiny waist was prized, and both men and women wore tight belts made of metal, which held their waists in. Some historians believe that these belts must have been worn since early childhood, forcing the waist to stop growing.
The figure of the Minoan woman, with large breasts, large hips, and tiny waist, was very similar to the female shape that came into fashion during the late 1800s c.e., when women laced themselves into tight corsets to make their waists small and wore hoops under their skirts to increase the size of their bottom half. Some experts believe that Minoan women must have also had some sort of framework under their skirts to support the bell shape. In fact, so close were Minoan fashions to popular French fashions of the 1800s that one of the women in an ancient Minoan painting was nicknamed "La Parisienne" (the woman of Paris) by those who discovered her.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Western Dress, Prehistoric to Present. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.
Payne, Blanche. History of Costume: From Ancient Egypt to the 20th Century. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.
[See also Volume 1, Ancient Greece: Loin Coverings ; Volume 3, Eighteenth Century: Corsets ]
"Minoan Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 18, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/minoan-dress
"Minoan Dress." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved April 18, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/minoan-dress
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.