The Development of Ebdurian Clothing: I

As some other people have been doing it, I thought I would contribute in a similar vein. Unfortunately, I’ve no artistic ability, or else I would try to help out the reader with some helpful illustrations. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave those to your imagination, and I can only hope the descriptions are not confusing. Do let me know if they are and I’ll try to clarify.

[And yes, these are the speakers of Rawang Ata; hopefully somebody will find the linguistic titbits interesting]

I’ve broken this down into periods, and I’ve given a little extra background for the first by describing a period for which I’ve not given clothing details.

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Kōba Period and Archaic Period: before c.100BH and c.100BH-c.200H)

The Kōba period is the first entrance of Ebdurian people into the history of nearby peoples. Before this time, the Ebdurians were a loosely-organised maritime tribal culture in the distant south reaches of the continent; during this period, they adopted the iron weapons of their more settled neighbours, organised themselves more coherently, and sailed north as raiders and settlers. Along the way, they discovered the distant island of Ebduria, where some of them settled; as the mainland people began to fight back against their depredations, this settlement increased, as it was far enough from the mainland that their raiders could not be pursued home.

The Kōba period was shortlived; their social structure deteriorated once more, and they ceased to be a threat. During this time, the island settlers lost touch with the mainland. They were at this time a scattered and disunified people inhabiting small fishing villages.

The First Concord: c.200BH-c.800BH

Background

The First Concord is a mythical, or at least legendary, agreement among all the Kōba settlers of Ebduria, in which several key legal tenets were consented to by all people, and new clans were established and legally recognised. That no such agreement ever literally occurred is certain, yet it is true that around this time a new peace came to the island, and the last remnants of the old Kōba clan system disappeared. It is also true that the settlers from this point on exhibited a degree of solidarity against the aborigines, who at this time still outnumbered them considerably.

By and large, the 600 years of the First Concord were a time of isolation for the island. However, the isolation was not entire, and from almost the beginning of the period some contact was established with the Carian sea-raiders from the north – and it is the Carian alphabet that can be seen in the very first inscriptions from the island, not the logography of the Antarem culture across the strait.

Garments


During the First Concord period, the clothing of the Ebdurians was more or less as it had been for the last thousand years, with the Antarem influences that had been present in the Kōba period eliminated by the isolation and the collapse of the old social order.

Gender was not at this time a factor in clothing, and both sexes wore the simple garment now known as a Lajo (although at that point it was probably called ‘*Lazigwa‘). This was a single strip of cloth wrapped about the lower body (from the left hip across the front, around the back, and across the front again to the right hip), and held on by a broad leather belt across the hips.

This garment appeared in two forms: the *Lazigwa talwe and the *Lazigwa ewnanwe – respectively the “double lajo” and the “single lajo”. These terms have evolved into the modern words lajotō and làjomam, albeit with different meanings. Nonetheless, we will use the modern words from now on, and note the changing meaning as we progress.

The làjomam was originally made of a single piece of cloth, which reached to just above the knee. By contrast, the lajotō was made of two strips of cloth, one sewn to the bottom of the other, and reached to the mid-shin. The lajotō was, due to the amount of cloth and the cost of sewing, more expensive than the làjomam, and was generally associated with those who did not have to engage in manual labour (when its length and uniform width could become constricting).

The climate of Ebduria being, in the main, extremely wet, it was considered desirable to cover the upper body when going outside in the summer. The solution was a circle of felt, with a hole roughly cut for the head, which could simply be draped over one’s shoulders – a garment called itàko. With this was worn a conical straw hat, the rema.

Textiles

At this time, there were three sources of fabric: the fur of the domesticated giant rat, the bark of the salua tree, and the stems of the grass-like topi plant. All three sources were problematic. The fur of the rat was short and coarse, making it both hard to weave and uncomfortable to wear, and so was mostly used for felt-making. The bark, while requiring cultivation, was reasonably plentiful, but the fabric it produced was coarse and did not drape. Finally, the grass was slow-growing, and its fabric could not be dyed, and did not cope well with exposure to water. Tòpite was consequently reserved for indoor clothing, chiefly for women, although wealthy men also often had a tòpite lajo for formal indoor occasions.

Design

Dying techniques at this time were primitive, and only a pale yellow and a dark brown-red were available. These were applied in patterns through resist dying, in which a seaweed extract covered those areas not to be dyed. The dominant designs were the soin (the leaf of a medicinal and ritually-significant plant – divided into four ‘lobes’, only just joined together, each lobe has four points, of varying size) and the barta (of unknown origin, resembling an elongated bass clef, in which the long tail eventually bends back, and three large dots are positioned around the loop at the top), which were arranged in a confused and sporadic fashion across the salùatè.

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Just so that you know, I will be posting four more of these, and a brief glossary of terms for modern dress.

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