The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
— In Biblical Times:
The general Hebrew designation for "costume" is "beged," applied indifferently to the garments of rich and poor, male and female. Other general designations are "keli," "lebush," "malbush," "tilboshet," and also "kesut." An exact description of the successive styles of costume in use among the people of the Bible is impossible, since the material at hand is insufficient.
The earliest garment was the apron around the hips or loins ("ḥ agorah" or "ezor"), made, in primitive times, of the skins of animals. This apron developed in course of time into the undergarment ("ketonet" or "kuttonet" = χ ι τ ώ υ , "tunica"), which was worn next to the skin (Genesis 9:21 2Samuel 6:20 ), and taken off at night (Song of Song of Solomon 5:3 ). (See
At a later period the nobles wore over the upper garment, or in place of it, a wide, many-folded mantle of state ("adderet" or "ma' aṭ afah") made of rich material (Isaiah 3:22 ), imported from Babylon (Joshua 7:21 ). As costly garments were worn only on special occasions and removed immediately afterward, they were called "maḥ alaẓ ot" (Isaiah 3:22 Zechariah 3:4 ) or "ḥ alifot" (Genesis 45:22 Judges 14:12 et seq. ). This was especially the case with garments worn during the service in the Temple, which, having come close to the divinity, had become, figuratively speaking, saturated with the divine effluvium and could easily imperil the wearer. Persons of higher rank, especially the princes, had a great number of these festive garments (IIKings 10:22), which were taken care of by a special keeper of the wardrobe (compare 2 Kings 22:14 ). They were not merely for personal wear (Job 27:16 ), but, as in the East to-day, they were frequently offered as presents (Genesis 45:22 1Samuel 18:4 2 Kings 5:5 ).
The cap (ṭ aḳ iyyah), often the only head-covering worn by boys, is generally made of two or three thicknesses of cotton cloth, intended to protect the rest of the head-covering against perspiration over this are placed one, and often two, felt caps ("lubbadah"), and then the Turkish national head-covering ("ṭ arbush") finally a fringed cloth of unbleached cotton, a colored figured mandil, a yellow and red striped kaffiyyah, a black cashmere shawl, a piece of white muslin, or a green cloth is wound around this. This style of head-covering not only protects against the sun, but is also an admirable pillow, and serves as a repository for valuable documents (compare "Zeit. Deutsch. Palä st. Ver." 4:57 et seq. ). The use of a similar head-covering among the Hebrews seems to be indicated by the noun "ẓ anif" (from the verb "ẓ anaf" Job 29:14 Isaiah 3:23 ), as well as by the verb "ḥ abash," applied to the act of arranging the "ẓ anif" for the verb "ḥ abash" means literally "to wind around," and the verb "ẓ anaf" similarly signifies "to wind into a ball." It is possible that the various classes gradually came to use different forms of the turban.
Costume of German Jews of the Thirteenth Century.
(From Herrad von Landsperg, "Luftgarten.")
— In Post-Biblical Times:
The dress indicated in the Talmud does not differ much from that described in the Bible. Rules were given for the order in which the different articles of dress were removed before a bath, and from this can be ascertained the costume of the ordinary Israelite of the time, which consisted, in order of removal, of shoes, head-covering, mantle, girdle, shirt, and finally a vest known by the Greek name "epikarsion" (Derek Ereẓ , Rabbah x.). Many, if not most, of the terms applied to articles of dress were derived from the Greek, and it is therefore probable that their form and style were Hellenic. Thus the sagum, or armless mantle of the laborer (Kel. 29:1) the dalmatic of the leisurely classes (Kil. 9:7) the sudarium, or handkerchief (Shab. 3:3 Sanh. 6:1 compare Luke 19:20 ) the pileum, or felt hat (Niddah 8:1) and the stola (Yoma 7:1) are all spoken of by their Greek names. A more complete enumeration of clothing in Talmudic times is given in Shab. 120a, in which the question is raised as to what clothes may be carried out of a burning house on Sabbath, Rabbi Jose limiting them to eighteen of the more necessary articles. The parallel passage in the Jerusalem Talmud gives different names, which fact points to a difference in costume between Palestine and Babylonia. Most of these names, as well as those in Yer. Kil. 9:4 and in Massek. Ẓ iẓ it, p. 22, are of Greek origin, and indicate the extent of Hellenic influence on Jewish dress. The Jews even borrowed from the Romans the superstitious practise of drawing on the right shoe first (Derek Ereẓ R. x. Shab. 61a), though previously the opposite custom had prevailed among them (Yer. Shab. 6:2). The pæ nula, a round cape with hood, mentioned in Yer. Ḥ ag. 1:8, and generally used by day-laborers to protect their tunics from rain and snow, is contrasted with the ṭ allit as a Japhetic or foreign garment (Gen. R. xxxvi.).
Generally speaking, it may be assumed that the Jewish dress of Palestine, at least in the cities, was adapted in a large measure from that of the Romans yet at times conservatives like the masters of the Law kept to the old Palestinian costume: the "gollok," which they wore under the ṭ allit (B. B. 57b), is specially declared to be like the so-called" coat of many colors" of Joseph (Gen. R. 84: to the flowing character of the robes there was very little difference in male and female dress, so that Rabbi Judah and his wife were able to manage with one street-robe between them. The stola, for instance, was used indiscriminately by men and women. It was a long mantle of finer material than the tunic or shirt, girdled under the breast and provided with a stripe of a different color and sometimes embroidered with gold. It was often very expensive, costing occasionally as much as 100 minas (Shab. 128a). The waistcoat, or epikarsion, used by both men and women, was brought round under one arm and then knotted over the shoulder of the other (Niddah 48b compare Miḳ . 10:4). The trousers or drawers of the ordinary Israelite differed from those of the priests of earlier times only by being provided with openings (Niddah 13b). In regard to covering for head and feet see
German Jew of the Early Sixteenth Century.
(After Hans Burgkmair.)
Mourners as well as excommunicated persons (Yer. R. H. 1:3) wore black, as did those accused of adultery (Soṭ ah 7a) but shoes were not to be black, because the wearing of black shoes was a distinctively Gentile practise (Ta' an. 22a). White was used at weddings and other festivals, and for this reason was adopted for the festival of New-Year (Yer. R. H. 1:3) for special apparel as a sign of mourning see
Jews of the Upper Rhine, End of the Sixteenth Century.
(From the Basel "Stammbuch," 1612.)
Costume of a Jew of Swabia, Early Seventeenth Century.
(After Daniel Meisner, "Politica Politice," 1700.)
Importance of Dress.
Influence of the Badge.
The only restriction on material is in the Biblical injunction against using garments "mingled of linen and woolen" (Leviticus 19:19 see
An English Jew of the Stock Exchange.
(From a caricature of the early eighteenth century.)
Even from Talmudic times it was usual to reserve a better suit of clothes for the Sabbath. Every one should have two suits, one for week-days and one for Sabbath (Yer. Peah 8:7), and where two suits are unattainable, the one should be differently arranged on Sabbath (Sanh. 113a). It is quite customary on modern Jewish holidays to carry out the Talmudic precept.
Regarding the costume of Jews in early Germany there are a few details in the sources given by Berliner in "Aus dem Innern Leben," 2d ed., pp. 62-65. The "Sachsenspiegel" speaks of the gray coats of the Jews, but black was generally recommended (Benjamin Ze' eb, Responsa, No. 282), though Jews might wear bright colors on journeys or in times of trouble ("Aggudah." 125b). Similarly fringes were disliked (Israel Isserlein, Responsa, No. 296), though the "kurse" worn by brides, a mantle with narrow sleeves, was trimmed with fur. Both sexes wore long garments. The Jew wore a "kappa" reaching to his heels, while on his head was placed a "mitra," or hood ("Maharil," pp. 36,82). The mantle of the Jewess, however, was longer, and was held back by a brooch called a "nuschke" ("Or Zaru' a," 2:39). The best-known garment worn by the German-speaking Jews was the white "sargenes," called "kittel" in the Rhine regions. This was made of silk, often embroidered, and flowed ungirdled to the feet (Menz, Responsa, No. 86). It was worn mainly on the Sabbath and on festivals, and was without the right armhole, so that the right arm could not profane the Sabbath. Later on it was used as a shroud, but the earliest notice of this refers to the beginning of the fourteenth century. Grü nbaum ("Jü disch-Deutsche Chrestomathie," pp. 502-504) derives it from "sarge," but Berliner (l.c. p. 132) from the Old High German "sarroc," or shirt. For garments for the dead see
The pupils of Isserlein describe him as wearing a "geriffelte," a fur-lined mantle like that worn by women, with ruffles round the neck (Responsa, No. 297) but at the same time they state that only the older rabbis in Austria wore it. Sebastian Brant, in his "Narrenschiff," describes a particularly popular fringed mantle of his time as "Judisch syt" (Gü demann, "Erziehungswesen in Deutschland," Vienna, 1888, p. 274).
Tunis Jewess in Street Costume.
(After a photograph.)
For information concerning the actual dress used by Jews in medieval and modern times, the portraits and caricatures of Jews found in manuscripts and books must be examined. These are rarely of Jewish origin except in the case of the illuminated Haggadot, and in these it is difficult to determine how far the illustrations represent specifically Jewish dress. In an early fourteenth-century Spanish manuscript Haggadah the tunics of the men come to a point in front, while the women wear an outer mantle without sleeves which passes over the head, leaving the breast bare. The hat is large, and is worn toward one side of the head, with the back bent up and the front flat (Brit. Museum, Add. MS. 27,210). In an Italian Haggadah dated 1269 the women wear tight-fitting low dresses and have their hair fastened in nets and caps (ib. Add. MS. 26,957). The chief characteristic which will be observed in the first row of costumes in the accompanying plate is the length of the outer robe, which, except in the case of No. 12, a Swiss Jew of the fifteenth century, comes down to the feet. This points to the fact that the Jews during the three centuries indicated were debarred from handicrafts. A peculiarity that is particularly to be observed in the costume is that it exactly resembles that of the sedentary monk. The sole exception to the rule of the long outer robe is found in a representation (see illustration, p. 296) of a Jew of Swabia early in the seventeenth century, figured in Meisner's "Politica Politice," whereas the Italian Jew (No. 5) in the plate is more prepared for outdoor and a traveling life. With the Renaissance a new principle seems to have come into play: the Jews clung more tenaciously to their usual dress, and did not follow the innovations of fashion so that they became distinguished by wearing the old-fashioned costume of their native country. The pictures of German Jews and Jewesses of the seventeenth century given by Hottenroth (Nos. 13,15) do not differ in any respect from the ordinary dress of citizens of Worms, Nuremberg, and Frankfort, except by being somewhat old-fashioned. The same applies to the Jew and Jewess of Fü rth (No. 18). Similarly, the costumes of Jews of Amsterdam depicted in Picart's "Coutumes Religieuses" exactly resemble those of the wealthier classes of Holland at that period.
Costume of a Jew of Algiers.
(From a photograph.)
Jewess of Brusa, Turkey.
In the East, Jewesses for the most part adopted the Mohammedan custom of wearing veils, though the custom was by no means so rigorously observed by them as by their Mohammedan sisters. In 1697 the Jews of Metz passed a law ordering all their women to wear veils when going to synagogue, except on Saturday nights, at the close of festivals, and on Purim. See
With regard to those modes of dressing the hair which go with certain costumes, see
French Rabbi in Official Garb.
(From a photograph.)
Striped clothing is one of the striking characteristics of the Oriental male Jewish dress. This seems against the medieval principle of avoiding party-colored garments. It is not an invariable custom, but is frequent enough to deserve mention. J.A contemporary Jewess of Algiers wears on her head a "takrita" (handkerchief), is dressed in a "bedenor" (gown with a bodice trimmed with lace) and a striped vest with long sleeves coming to the waist. The "mosse" (girdle) is of silk. The native Algerian Jew wears a "ṭ arbush" or oblong turban with silken tassel, a "ṣ adriyyah" or vest with large sleeves, and "sarwal" or pantaloons fastened by a "ḥ izam" (girdle), all being covered by a mantle, a burnus, and a large silk handkerchief, the tassels of which hang down to his feet. At an earlier stage the Algerian Jewess wore a tall cone-shaped hat resembling those used in England in the fifteenth century (
"The Barbary Jews wear a blue frock, without a collar or sleeves, loose linen sleeves being substituted, with wide drawers of the same article, no stockings, excepting in winter, and black slippers, a small black skull-cap on their head, which is shaved, and around which a blue silk handkerchief is bound they are permitted to wear no colors. The Italian Jews dress like Christian residents, with the addition of a haick, or bournouse, thrown over their heads. The Jewish women, like the Turkish, are considered as an inferior race— they are fat and awkward, their dress consisting of a petticoat of silk of two colors, principally yellow and purple, around which is thrown, in several folds, a thin gauze wrapper the head is covered with a colored silk handkerchief those who are single have their hair plaited in two or three rows, to the end of which they suspend colored ribands they wear no stockings, but slippers, with silver cinctures around their ankles and the soles of their feet, their hands, nails, and eyebrows, tinged and colored of a dark brown, from the juice of a herb called henna. When they walk they unloosen from their neck a piece of black crape, with which they cover their mouth and chin, leaving the upper part of their face bare."Whatever the costume, in almost every case the outer garment is supported by a belt or girdle. This has Biblical authority, and besides enables the ultra pious to carry a handkerchief as a girdle on Sabbath on other occasions the handkerchief is tucked inside the girdle, as is seen in a curious caricature of an English Jew of the Stock Exchange, as well-as in a figure after Hans Burgkmair showing a Jewish pedler of the sixteenth century wearing a relatively modern felt hat (see illustrations, pp. 295,296). In the eighteenth century the Jew generally wore the ordinary three - cornered hat of the time, and even had his hair powdered (Arye ben Ḥ ayyim, Responsa, No. 6).
Jews of Jerusalem.
(From a photograph by the American Colony, Jerusalem.)
The Jewesses of Aleppo are distinguished among all the women of the East for displaying their hair, which is twisted into a spiral arranged high upon the head in the form of a dome. Their dress consists of a silken ' antari with broad red and yellow stripes, shalwar (pantaloons), "mintan," vest of the same material as the ' antari, with very long sleeves, hurka of plain taffeta, and a shawl of plain silk and cotton used as a girdle and tied in the front. They wear soft shoes and yellow "pabujas." In Jerusalem one Jewess has been described as wearing a "fistan" (gown) of dark-green satin trimmed with gold embroidery over the plaited skirt, the hem of which is also trimmed with embroidery, as well as the long open sleeves which open out of the narrow sleeves of the "salṭ ah," or jacket of white cashmere. The hotoz is built up from a large number of figured "yemeni" and twisted one above the other in the form of a melon round the lower edge is a row of gold coins a small veil of white muslin is fastened to the top of the hotoz and is gathered round the face. M.
Jews of Constantinople, Eighteenth Century, Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles.
(From an old print.)
The Jews of Cochin are in no way distinguished in their dress from the Hindus of their district. The black Jews wear the garb of day-laborers, a thin linen jacket and a long robe, the former being removed while at work. The white Jews wear a kind of paletot, and under this a waistcoat buttoned up to the chin both classes wear a cap resembling a smoking-cap. In earlier times the men used to wear the gored pantaloons and white turbans of the Mohammedans of India (see plate, No. 20).
The Ḥ asidim of Galicia tend to distinguish themselves in dress as well as in customs besides the fur hat and the old-fashioned "paletot" reaching to the ankles, the modern Ḥ asid is invariably to be recognized by the pair of white socks into which the trousers are tucked.
Rabbi of the Orient.
(From a photograph.)
The following is a table of illustrations of costumes in the first four volumes of
Volume II.: Moses Arragel, page 139 Benj. Artom, 156 Ẓ ebi Ashkenazi, 202 Atonement, Day of, 283-285 badge, 425-426 Bagdad, 437 Jerusalem Jew. 614 beard, 614 Belais, 652.
Volume III.: Mordecai Benet, page 14 Beni-Israel, 18-19 Isaac Bernays, 90 betrothal, 126-128 Bokhara, 293-295 bridegroom of the Law, 383 Brussels, 407-408 burial, 432-437 Raphael Isaac Carregal, 592 Caucasus, 628-629 Ẓ ebi Chajes, 660.
Volume IV.: China, page 36 Cochin, 135-136 Cohn, Tobias, 161 Constance, 235 Cracow, 326-328 Death, 485 Delmedigo, Joseph, 508 disputation divorce. For sources of the figures in the colored plate of costumes of Jews see
Jew of Kolomea, Austrian Galicia.
(After a photograph.)
— In Russia and Poland:
Jews of the Caucasus in Native Costume.
(After a Photograph by Orden.)
In the Middle Ages the Jews of Poland and Lithuania dressed like their Christian neighbors, as is indicated clearly by Cardinal Commendoni in his well-known description of the condition in which he found the Jews when he visited Poland in 1561 ("Czacki Rosprawa o Zydach," p. 93). The special garb which, in medieval times, the Jews of Germany and other European countries were compelled to wear (see Bruno Kö hler, "Allgemeine Trachtenkunde," 3:100) was not known in Poland. There is, in fact, seemingly reliable evidence that the so-called Jewish garb of Poland, including even the "jarmulka" (undercap), is simply the old Polish costume which the Jews retained after the Poles had adopted the German form of dress (see Plungian, "Ben Porat," p. 59, Wilna, 1858, quoting from Russian sources). As the Jews lived under their own jurisdiction practically until the division of Poland, and as the interior of Russia had no Jewish population before the acquisition of the Polish provinces, all Russian legislation on the subject of Jewish costumes is naturally confined to the nineteenth century.
Polish Jewess and Jew of the Eighteenth Century.
(After Le Prince, 1765.)
Warsaw Jew and Jewess of the Early Nineteenth Century.
(From Hollaenderski, "Les Israelites de Pologne.")
Law of 1845.
But the strictly Orthodox not only had religious scruples against wearing the costume of the Gentiles, which is prohibited, though not clearly and decisively, by Maimonides, and the Shulḥ an ' Aruk (Yoreh De' ah, 178), but considered the new law as another one of the many efforts of the emperor to Christianize them by force. It caused as much dismay as the worst decree of that harsh reign, and the number of Jews who preferred to suffer the penalty rather than comply with the law was so large that its enforcement was postponed for five years. But the suspension of the law, like most acts of the Russian government, was not complete, and some of the taxes were still collected which had been imposed upon those who desired exemption from that law. Among such taxes was that collected for wearing jarmulkas, which seems to have been collected in various places in an irregular manner, but was finally compounded, by a special decree of Feb. 11,1848, for a tax of five rubles annually, the proceeds to go to the fund of the "korobka" (basket tax). The decree was reenacted May 1,1850, to take effect Jan. 1,1851, giving permission, however, to the governors-general of the various provinces to allow Jews over sixty years of age to continue the old garb.
Now that the costume laws are obsolete the Jews dress as they please. Old-fashioned Jews still cling to the long frock-coats and cloaks, length being the distinguishing feature of all kinds of Jewish costumes (see Carl Kö hler, "Trachten der Vö lker in Bild und Schrift," p. 300, Dresden, 1871). The preference for silk, velvet, and expensive furs, against which the Jewish Council of the Four Lands legislated from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, still prevails in many parts of Russia, though it is waning. The
Ḥ assid and Wife of the Early Nineteenth Century.
(From Hollaenderski, "Les Israelites de Pologne.")
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Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [BECNT]