The Development of Ebdurian Clothing: III

The Early Third Concord (c. 1300H-c.1670H)

Background


The end of the Second Concord was marked by increasing influence by foreign powers – in particular, by Seravos. These foreign powers found it inconvenient to deal with the fractured political system of the island, and encouraged the primacy of a single family, and eventually a unified monarchy. This monarchy then took advantage of international disagreements to establish its independence and local power. Revolutions in farming caused huge population increases, while technological advances gave and advantage over other powers, until eventually a vast maritime empire was assembled in the eighteenth century. Domestically, society became increasingly stratified, and increasingly devoted to conspicuous consumption.

Garments

The multiple cloths of the lajodàn had become established as a sign of wealth and class. As class became more salient, this marker became emphasised, with lajodàns being made of more and more and thinner and thinner strips of material, all of different colouration. To make the joins more noticeable, an overhang of the upper cloth was left. This then became folded back up and sewn back onto the body of the cloth, with the tube thus created filled with padding. An expensive lajodàn of c. 1700 could thus be essentially a series of padded hoops joined by cloth, with each hoop almost as wide as the cloth above or below. Usually, however, there would be no hoops covering the breasts.

The padding of the hoops created difficulties when the fabric was wrapped over itself, so the once-wrapped method was adapted from the kinyajo, with the open left side closed with ties. What had originally been a simple garment had become something quite sophisticated.

Women of a lower station, wishing to distinguish themselves from those lower still, moved away from the kinyajo/deilajo combination, now seen once more as disreputable. For the lower part of their costume, the kinyajo was replaced with the làjomam, already commonly in use, but a new garment had to be invented for the upper part. The solution was a cloth folded around the breasts, meeting in the middle, with the upper corners at the meeting point pinned over the shoulders to the cloth on the back; the cloth was long enough to be pinned closed at the front without showing the breasts. This new garment was called yanau deilajo, or “line-deilajo”, in the sense of “middle deilajo”, probably in a reference to the middle-class women who wore them.

The costume of men also evolved, though not to the same extent. Their làjomam became longer, not by sowing cloths together but by simply using larger looms, until it reached near the ground, and rose up to the chest. The itàko became longer and wider, but diagonal cuts were made toward the shoulders, with the two ends above the cut sewn together to form short but voluminous sleeves. The number of pleats added by hand rose further; fabric was wrapped around the arms in imitation of vambraces. Finally, the belt became wider and wider, generally a patterned web of leather sown onto a cloth sash, reaching from the chest to the hips. This was referred to as a banātiyosa, “stomach-guard”, as distinct from the simpler, slender rātajoùn belt(s) worn by women.

The mahikò were at this time undergoing a gender schism. At first, this was a schism between the male and female mahikò, but it quickly became more fundamental. The primarily male gender, still mahikò, were more closely connected to religious ritual, and consequently more isolated from the community. Those who were excluded from these rituals, who were primarily female, became a new, less favoured gender, who were not able to escape from society in the same way. This gender became known as the kimyō, “egg-layers”, as they, like the prostitutes of the earlier age, were women who did not become pregnant. The connection between the two groups in unclear – it is probable that the two names were given independently, but the long connection of the mahikò, of either sex, with ritual prostitution may also have been a factor. It is also possible that the term was originally derogatory.

The mahikò adopted the new, more tabard-like male itàko, but retained their old lajotō, which developed in a similar way to the lajodàn – except that it continued to go no higher than the hips, and was in general somewhat plainer than the lajodàn. Moreover, despite the multiple bands, it retained its two-colour theme – the upper bands one colour, the lower bands another. They also adopted the banātiyosa – perhaps because it had become prestigious, or perhaps because it became expected of anyone without an upper garment (the itàko still not being considered a lajo, and still mostly being made of felt).

The kimyō, on the other hand, moved in the direction of convenience in their lower clothing, shortening and simplifying the lajotō until it was of a similar length to the female lajomàm. As the kimyō continued to be, by and large, an active gender, these short skirts were highly practical, and less expensive than those of the mahikò. At this time, the kimyō were the least favoured gender, and dressed accordingly. They followed the mahikò, however, in adopting the banātiyosa, although theirs were always smaller and less eye-catching.

Finally, during this time period, the tòpite lajo, the white ‘linnen’ lajo, changed from being a formal item to a casual item, worn indoors among friends and with family. It was still almost entirely unadorned, of fine quality, and was of a single piece extending from the waist to near the ground. It was worn by all the genders.

Meanwhile, the traditional straw hat was undergoing some changes, becoming increasingly convex, with a wider brim and higher peak. The wealthy often draped expensive fabric over their hats, and hung fabric from the back of the brim to shield the neck from the sun.

Textiles

During this time, a number of new textiles were employed. Most prominent was keyì, a cotton-like material derived from certain tall trees on the mainland, which largely replaced wool in the upper classes. Exotic fibres were also imported, such as sandflax, linen, extremely fine wools, and silk. Metalic fabrics (cloth-of-gold, cloth-of-silver) were also being explored. All of these were used, though mainly for highlighting and patterning.

At the same time, the discovery occurred of the native fabric, rijnui, a product of giant stinging nettles. Burdened by an extremely elaborate production procedure, and by the near-impossibility of dyeing, the fabric nonetheless became popular for its lustre, strength and soft texture.

Design

Design elements in this period concentrated upon a band above the hem, which eventually was turned back on itself and padded for greater durability and ostentation, as described above. In these narrow bands, dying became less convenient, and emphasis was instead placed upon embroidery, often in exotic materials, although the chief design elements remained the same, gradually being supplemented by other images from nature – animals, birds, leaves, waves and so on. In particular, the fern took on a great significance.

In the “panels” (those areas not a hem or an artificial hem), the movement was toward clear figures on dyed backgrounds, to demonstrate resist-dying rather than block-dying (although, in turn, blocks were developed in ‘negative’). As expertise with mordents increased, a wider range of tones became available, and a new petrol-blue dye was introduced, rapidly become favoured. Clothes began to be dyed in garish combinations, often by placing a pattern in one colour at an angle over a pattern in another colour, so that new tones were produced where they overlapped.

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