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Roman Tunic - Help - Printable Version

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Roman Tunic - Help - Draagon - 02-19-2014

Hello,

my name is Tobias, I’m from Germany and a new member here at RAT. I need your help because I’m trying to make a tunic for reenactment. I’m not a native English speaker but I hope you will understand what I mean Smile

I bought the book “The Praetorian Guard” by Osprey and took this as reference for my tunic. At first: Are the pictures accurate? Can I take them as reference?

I plan to use wool for my tunic but I’m not sure about the color / position of the clavi.

Color of the clavi:
What is the exact color of the clavi? Imperial Purple or red? In the Osprey book the clavi are Imperial purple but other sources say they were red.

Position of the clavi:
What is the correct position of the clavi: Left or right on my attached picture?

Wool for tunic:
Were the tunics completely white or more of natural color (beige)?

Pattern:
Is there a standard pattern for a roman tunic? I found this one (see picture). Any other recommendations?


I hope you can give me advice!

Thanks!
Tobias


Roman Tunic - Help - Flavivs Aetivs - 02-19-2014

First of all, welcome to RAT!

(AFAIK) Generally speaking, it works as follows:

A Roman Legionary tunic would have been, generally speaking, off-white (like beige or tan), white, or red. There were other colors as well like Blue or Green, but they aren't common for the 1st or 2nd century.

Clavii in this era did not decorate the edges of a Tunic, they consisted of two stripes running down the main body. The thicker the stripes, the higher your status.

Tunics usually did not have sleeves - basically what you had were 2 wool or linen blankets sewn together and supported by a waistbelt, with openings for arms, legs, and the neck.

Some tunics did have sleeves though.

Imperial (Tyrian) purple is extremely expensive (About 10,000 dollars an ounce) and would not have even been worn by a praetorian guardsmen (or at least it's really unlikely). Tunics of this era could have had red, blue, green, or etc. clavii but they usually symbolized certain things. Red clavii meant a soldier I think.

I'm sure Graham Sumner could tell you more.


Roman Tunic - Help - jvrjenivs - 02-19-2014

The basic question to be answered first would be 'What do you wanna portray?'
This question can be further diveded into two (or three) questions:
1. Which period to portray?
2. What type/rank/unit?
(3. If an 'local' impression is wanted: Which region?' )

As for a nice tunica cum clavi with interwoven stripes, check out this German supplier: http://www.handweberei-galz.de


Roman Tunic - Help - Decebalus - 02-19-2014

Hello Tobias,

if you like an overall view about the complex theme of the Roman tunic, I would recommend this book:

M. Pausch, Die römische Tunika

It is an interesting read and will answer all your questions.


Roman Tunic - Help - Graham Sumner - 02-19-2014

Hello Tobias

Firstly is your tunic for a civilian or military impression? Secondly Jurjen has also asked some other questions which you will need to answer. As you may have guessed by now the subject is a lot more complex and there is more information on clothing now than was available when the Osprey Praetorian book was written. You can read M. Pausch, Die römische Tunika or my own book 'Roman Military Dress' which is available via Amazon.

Some quick answers to your questions based on the assumption you want to be a Legionary of the early empire.

I plan to use wool for my tunic but I’m not sure about the color / position of the clavi.
Wool is the most authentic material and was even used in Egypt although some tunics in the eastern countries were in linen. The clavi are two vertical stripes either side of the neck opening. They varied in size depending on status but the rules were not followed closely.

Color of the clavi:
What is the exact color of the clavi? Imperial Purple or red? In the Osprey book the clavi are Imperial purple but other sources say they were red.


It is not certain if military tunics at this period had clavi. There are not many original sources. Assuming they did follow civilian fashion then clavi could be in a variety of colours. Many are in the red to purple range but you can get green, blue dark, blue, grey and black examples.

Position of the clavi:
What is the correct position of the clavi: Left or right on my attached picture?


The image in the attached picture is wrong for first century clavi. As mentioned above they were vertical stripes either side of the neck opening. Later tunic decoration was much more complex.

Wool for tunic:
Were the tunics completely white or more of natural color (beige)?


It would appear that soldiers wore specially bleached tunics for special occasions. Otherwise they would probably wear an unbleached un-dyed tunic. Many of the un-dyed tunics found at the fort of Dydimoi had a beige appearance. Un-dyed wool can come in a variety of shades. I have suggested that soldiers may also have worn a third tunic for battle which may have been reddish. This may also have been an un-dyed wool tunic but more expensive versions could have been dyed with madder and really expensive ones dyed with the scarlet dye from the Kermes. It does appear that red was regarded by the Romans as a traditional military colour but it also appears that other colours were used although chiefly for cloaks rather than tunics.


Pattern:
Is there a standard pattern for a roman tunic? I found this one (see picture). Any other recommendations?

The pattern you have shown is suitable for tunics from the third century A.D but not really for earlier imperial examples. These tended to be simple rectangular shapes which were usually wider than they were long. They did not have sleeves but because they are so wide the material hangs down the arms. There is a military document from Egypt which gives the size for a military tunic. This is a frightening 1.55m long by 1.40m wide. It is possible tunics of this size would then be adjusted to fit the individual and a surviving tunic from Israel measuring 1.0 m long by 1.15m wide seems a good size for an adult male.

I hope this helps but you will find much more information in the books.

Graham


Roman Tunic - Help - Draagon - 02-20-2014

Thanks everyone for your help! I'm very happy that you help me and I have learned a lot from your replies!

I'm very new to this topic (Roman Reenactment) and watched the big Hollywood movies + HBO Rome only. Now I have started to read about roman dress to get more information and realized that the movie dresses aren’t very accurate.

Here are the answers to your questions so I hope I can clear some things up.

Quote:The basic question to be answered first would be 'What do you wanna portray?'
This question can be further diveded into two (or three) questions:
1. Which period to portray? – 1st century (early empire)
2. What type/rank/unit? – roman senator / military commander (legate)


Quote:Firstly is your tunic for a civilian or military impression?

Both. At first I want to use the tunic under my toga (roman senator) but also under my armor (which I don’t have at the moment).

For the roman senator tunic I took this picture from my Osprey book as reference now:

[Image: tunicwtoga_zpsa9b8dd43.jpg]

The tunic has the vertical clavi you have talked about. The togas are plain white but I thought they had clavi along one edge too (???)


I have changed my tunic pattern so it has the vertical stripes now. Second: It has no longer sleeves.

[img width=400]http://i144.photobucket.com/albums/r197/Draagon86/Tunicpattern_zps354f0062.jpg[/img]


The size of the clavi for the senatorial class was 7”. Is that right?

Were the clavi woven in or sewn on the tunic?



I found two pictures where the commanders wore the same tunic under their armor but I don’t know if that’s accurate military dress. What do you think about that?

[Image: Tunicwarmor_zps3ec03d02.jpg]
[Image: Tunicwarmor2_zpsd87fe5d8.jpg]


P.S: Thank you for your book recommendations! I will buy both books next month.


Roman Tunic - Help - Flavivs Aetivs - 02-20-2014

AFAIK Senatorial Tunics had Clavii of 7cm, not 7in. 2-3in would be correct, I have a friend who is putting together an equestrian kit and we discussed Tyrian purple and Clavii at length.


Roman Tunic - Help - Graham Sumner - 02-20-2014

Hello Tobias

Now I have started to read about roman dress to get more information and realized that the movie dresses aren’t very accurate.

We all share that frustration! Smile Most films etc show the tunic of a senator with a single broad stripe up the middle. There is no real evidence for this but I think it is a misinterpretation of the original sources. As you can see in your pictures the left shoulder stripe is hidden under the toga so you would only ever see one.


I have changed my tunic pattern so it has the vertical stripes now. Second: It has no longer sleeves.


The tunic needs to be wider than it is long so turn it on it's side but keep the clavi in the same position. I think a rough guide is that Senatorial stripes were a supposed to be a fingers length, while Equestrian stripes were supposed to be a fingers width. I do not think a Senatorial or Equestrian tunic has ever been found but it is clear from the finds of tunics belonging to ordinary people that they were wearing clavi bigger than this!

For senatorial togas you could try and find 'The Roman Toga' by L.M. Wilson. The original is an old book but I think modern reprints are available on Amazon. I bought one a few years ago. There is also 'The World of Roman Costume' by J. Sebesta and L. Bonfante.

An interesting point while we are on the subject. In Sandra Bingham's recent book on the Praetorian Guard she argues against the wearing of togas in the palace by the Praetorians as depicted in the above artwork. They do have a little bit of an American secret agent look about them and it is hard to imagine in a crisis a guard running after anyone in a toga. However in his latest Osprey on the Roman Guardsman Ross Cowan takes the opposite view and he argues in favour of the toga. (There are two references to the Guard in togas in Tacitus, I believe. Not to hand at the moment)

A topic perhaps worthy of a separate discussion..... anyone?

Graham.


Roman Tunic - Help - Decebalus - 02-20-2014

Quote:[u]The togas are plain white but I thought they had clavi along one edge too (???)

As a Senator or Magistrate you would have the right to wear a broad purple stripe on your toga (toga praetexta).
On Republican togas it would be sewn only on the rounded part (sinus), sewn because it is not possible to dye a rounded edge equally.
In the early Imperial period the stripe would be also on the even side (balteus).
To portray a senator you should also pocess a pair of calcei senatorii, the high boots of the senatorial order and a gold ring on the ring finger of the left hand.


Roman Tunic - Help - Draagon - 02-20-2014

Quote:
Tobias post=351266 Wrote:[u]The togas are plain white but I thought they had clavi along one edge too (???)

As a Senator or Magistrate you would have the right to wear a broad purple stripe on your toga (toga praetexta).
On Republican togas it would be sewn only on the rounded part (sinus), sewn because it is not possible to dye a rounded edge equally.
In the early Imperial period the stripe would be also on the even side (balteus).
To portray a senator you should also pocess a pair of calcei senatorii, the high boots of the senatorial order and a gold ring on the ring finger of the left hand.

Thanks everyone!

But what about the clavi on the tunic. Were they woven in or sewn on the tunic? Or is both ok?

I have taken a look at the website recommended by Jvrjenivs (www.handweberei-galz.de) and the clavi are woven in.

[Image: woveninclavi_zps32e5110b.jpg]


For comparison I took a picture from the HBO show "Rome" where the clavi are sewn on the tunic.

[Image: sewnonclavi_zpsab8eb7ea.jpg]

What's your opinion in this case?


@ Graham: Count me in for the discussion of the Praetorian Guard wearing togas.
@ Decebalus: Any idea where I can find / buy a pair of calcei senatorii?


Roman Tunic - Help - Flavivs Aetivs - 02-20-2014

Woven in is correct. I don't know about sewn on but I would assume yes.


Roman Tunic - Help - zebsthief - 02-20-2014

Hi there... This is quite something to get just Right. I have a good friend who takes part in Annual Passion of Christ dramas, as i do, and i will ask him the question and get back to you hopefully.


Roman Tunic - Help - Martin Moser - 02-21-2014

Quote:What's your opinion in this case?

That's a clear one: never look to TV productions for guidance on how to do anything historical. :-)
I know of a couple dozen or more originals (more or less fragmented) and there is no indication among them that they were sewn on in the first place. There is one heavily patched tunic from Egypt where parts of other tunics were used and in that way parts of the clavi were stitched on - to quote:

[attachment=9103]Mons.PNG[/attachment]

(Source: Ulla Mannering, 'Roman Garments from Mons Claudianus'. Archéologie des textiles des origines au Ve siècle. Actes du colloque de Lattes, octobre 1999. edd. Dominque Cardon et Michel Feugère, éditions monique mergoil, Montagnac, 2000, 283-290.)

As you can see this was only a repair and done to upkeep the original appearance of the tunic.
The tunic from Sirko is among the best you can get at the moment without having something made bespoke I would say. It still is not completely correct, though, as the clavi are a warp facing weave (or warp rep/Kettrips in German) while the originals are always weft facing weaves (or weft rep/Schussrips in German).

Applying ornaments also seems to have become more common in late antiquity with sets of ornaments being re-used (ie.e cut out and sewn on to a new tunic) or prefabricated on a smaller piece of cloth (still woven in there) and then applied to the tunic. But we are not talking about this late, if I understand you correctly.

In the end it's down to how close to the originals you want to get and how much money your are able and willing to invest for clothing. Strangely, many (male) reenactors easily part with 4 digit numbers to get a fancy sword, but are content to wear that sword along with a tunic equivalent of the infamous trooper helmet :-P
Good stuff costs good money, there's no way around it.


Roman Tunic - Help - Martin Moser - 02-21-2014

Quote:On Republican togas it would be sewn only on the rounded part (sinus), sewn because it is not possible to dye a rounded edge equally.

Hm, interesting - I never dove into togae in any kind of detail. Is this personal conjecture or is there research you are basing this on? Are there any finds attributed to a toga, btw? I never heard of any myself ...
As later tunics show e.g. details were woven in in any number of shapes. Then there also is resist dyeing, although I have only seen Coptic/late Roman examples so far and I think they all were on linen rather than wool.


Roman Tunic - Help - jvrjenivs - 02-21-2014

Quote:@ Decebalus: Any idea where I can find / buy a pair of calcei senatorii?

I think that the best options are to ask Martin Moser (if he's willing to take commision), Dirk Steinhorst, or 'die knieriem'. All of them from Germany and good with shoes. Another option would be Filip De Clercq from Belgium.