Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Short And The Loin Of It

Before the Ice Age and the invention of woven cloth, people were happy to walk around naked, covered with red ochre, or sometimes wrapped in a cloak of hide or fur called a loinskin.


Reconstruction of an Iceman's woven-grass sheath

But thanks to weavers, cloth began to replace hides, and after 10,000 B.C. in the temperate Near East, farmers discovered that light linen was a lot more comfortable than sweaty loinskins. 

At first the primitive pagne looked like fake animal skin - unable to forget the old ways of animal magic, early men tufted the cloth to make it look like fleece.  They wore their new fleeced cloth draped around their shoulders, but the heat of the sun and the need to free their shoulders for work forced them to drop the pagne to their waist, in what became the first loincloth.

As seen in the movie, John Carter 

Pacific Islanders

 Ancient Egyptians

A loincloth by an other name was a breech clout (old English), waistcloth, dhoti (India), moocha (South Africa), or hipping (Scottish).

The Dhoti

In the Middle Ages they were called slops; the French called them cache sexe - hidden sex.

 Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon in The Tudors.

Sir Walter Raleigh and son in slops, 1602

It's a fashion that has endured for 20,000 years, right up to the present day, most popular in India, where it's been around since 2000 B.C. in natty cotton.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger