Cultural Identity and Dress: The Case of Late Byzantine Court Costume
Prani, Maria G.
Jahrbuch Der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 57, Band/2007, 95-134
Ceremonial costume is principally rhetorical in function, serving as a vehicle for the symbolic expression of the moral, religious, and political values of social groups. Within the framework of pre-modern, hierarchical states in particular, the ceremonial costume of the members of the ruling class came to be the visual manifestation of their status. The exclusive use of official insignia served to differentiate them from the rest of the population while at the same time, it created a sense of solidarity among their ranks. The sumptuousness of the costume, made of costly fabrics and often adorned with precious substances, publicized the wealth and consequent power of all those in or associated with authority and produced an awe-inspiring effect in the beholders, thus commanding their obedience and respect. Within the ruling class itself, rank was encoded in the use of particular garments and accessories and in the variation of materials, colours, manufacturing techniques, and decorative motifs of a heraldic character.