The Ancient Egyptians had a compulsion with personal hygiene and
believed that body hair was unhygienic. All men, woman and children shaved
their heads bald. This was also considered a requirement due to Egypt’s
climate. They wore detailed wigs which were made out of natural human hair that
was then fixed onto a net and these wigs were designed specially to keep their
heads cool. Although a shaved head was a sign of goodness, the majority of the
Egyptians kept their heads sheltered. Both men and woman wore distinguished eye
makeup and bright rouge. The rouge was used to stain their lips and cheeks. In
Ancient Egypt, eye makeup had a long history and both men and women were using
eye makeup from as early as 4000BC. They would use a kohl black on their
eyelids, eyelashes and eyebrows. They would also use difference colours of
greens and blues on their eyelids. The eye makeup was made up from Kohl which
was obtained from galena. Galena is a blue/grey mineral that is formed of
sulphide. Galena deposits were found in the Eastern Dessert. The green
colouring of the eye makeup was secured by the use green pigment called
malachite. Malachite is a carbonate mineral. The powders used to
create the eye makeup were mixed with water to form a paste. The rouge make-ups
where sourced from a variety of pigments, Red ochre which was made from
naturally coloured clay- hydrated iron oxide. Beads on the ends of their wigs
were an accessory used by the Egyptians during those times. The base of the
Egyptian wig was a fibre-netting skullcap, with strands of human hair, wool,
flax palm fibres attached. They used a styling gel on both the long and short
hair. They tried to curl their hair with tongs and even plaited it to lengthen
the hair. The wigs that the Egyptians wore were made up of human hair which
often supplemented by plant fibre or from the wool from a sheep. For 3000
years, all the clothes worn by Egyptians were linen made flax gowns. The fabric
suited the hot climate because it was cooling. Clothes were simple in shape
with minimal cutting of cloth. Men wore schenti cloth wrapped around the hips
which hung with folds in the front. Woman wore a kalasiris, a sheath like
dress, often with detachable sleeves. The silhouette was influenced by two key
factors: the fineness and the finish of the linen and by wearing decorative
collars and belts. These accessories were rich in colour and texture. Many
Egyptians would go barefoot and some would wear leather sandals on their feet
and coordinating anklets. The most popular material used was linen. This was
easily sourced and could be altered in many procedures. Footwear was made from
vegetable materials also papyrus was also occasionally used. Egyptians used as
much of the natural resources from their area as they could. Early on they
discovered the strength of flax plant for making linen cloth. Cotton was also
used and was imported from India. Footwear was sourced from the surrounding
areas and the materials came from things like palm leaf, flax plant and grass.
Egyptions and their trade partners sailed the Nile River to trade their goods
with Africa, Afghanistan, Punt and Nubia. They traded gold, papyrus, linen and
grain and received ivory, copper, iron, oils and ebony. The Egyptian Queen
Nefertiti, whose name translates “a beautiful woman has come”, is known for her
popular influence and great beauty. Nefertiti’s clothing trademarks include
distinctive tall, straight-sided and dark topped crown worn exclusively by her.
More than 3,500 years have passed and Queen Nefertiti and ancient Egypt
continues to inspire today’s designers. “Egyptomania” gripped fashion design of
the Art Deco era, from scarab jewellery to flowing, draped dresses, exotic
embroidery, pyramid and lotus-flower motifs, There was even a mummy wrap dress
in the 1920s, an idea expound afresh in the skin tight bandage dresses of the
2000s. Jewellery was worn head to toe by wealthy men and woman. Even their pets
wore vibrant pieces. They featured pieces from the natural world including
green palm leaves, white lotus flowers and yellow mandrake fruits. The
semi-precious stones included green and red jasper, amethyst, turquoise and
quartz. Glass and glazed composite were used to imitate the precious stones.
Upper-class men and women considered wigs as an essential part of their
wardrobe. The quality of linen this would show a persons wealth. Wearing a wig
signalled a person’s rank in society, this was to also differentiate the rich
from the poor.

 

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