This is a Roman fashion doll, given to young girls to dress as they pleased, much like a Barbie doll these days. Such dolls were also used as mannequins by seamstresses. The doll is made of ivory, and is wearing a gold necklace. Please note the bracelets, anklets, and elaborate hairdo.
(This picture was taken from a site that stated it was all royalty free and available for downloading. Since sometimes this is not entirely true, if anyone objects to my use of the picture, please let me know and it will be removed immediately.)
Judea, occupied by the sophisticated Romans and a center of lively trade that involved many foreigners visiting the country, was the stage for very interesting fashions. The elegant Greek ladies, the Roman officials’ wives and daughters, women from Syria, Babylonia, Moab, and Edom – all influenced the eclectic fashion scene. However, the purely Judean clothes had a distinctive style. It’s important to note, though, that many wealthy Judean women did not wear the Judean style, preferring the Greco-Roman style.
Judean women’s clothes were similar to the men’s in both fabric cut. The tunic was longer than the man’s, and somewhat more fitted to the body, but never tight enough to show the woman’s exact shape. It was tied around the waist with a fabric belt, sometimes in a contrasting color or striped. The women often embroidered even the plainest garments around the neck, then continued the pattern down the front. The poor and the middle class used wool or heavy linen, just like the men, and sometimes finer linen. The wealthy women, at least those who stuck to traditional Judean style and scorned the Roman stola and palla, used thin linen, silk, or cotton for the basic tunic, and on top of it wore a second tunic made of highly decorated linen, somewhat heavier than the inner one. The belt, tied around both tunics, was made from very expensive materials and embroidered with metal and precious stones tied around both tunics.
The tunics were worn only around the home or yard; a woman would not be seen in public without two types of mantle worn over her tunics. The upper mantle was a square or rectangle, made of wool for use in winter, and of linen for summer. It was a versatile accessory. The woman could wear it loose on her head, tie a band around it to keep it secure if she was involved in an active pursuit, wrap it around her face as a veil, or tie it around her body to create a pouch for carrying small bundles. A second mantle was a straight cut sleeveless garment, worn over the tunic and tied with a belt. Several types of veils were also worn in public, but covering the head was much more important than covering the face, since showing the face was not forbidden. Very young girls, maidservants, and women of very low class did not always wear the mantle, but for everyone else it was required.
Long, luxurious hair was very important to the women of Judea. Those who did not adopt the Greco-Roman style generally wore it as simple one or two braids. Wealthy women often wore extremely complex hairdos. They would create several braids, each interwoven with precious stones or metal ornaments, and then arrange these braids high on top of the head, like a beehive.
Personal grooming was even more important to the women than that to the men, since the woman had to have special purification baths after each period in addition to her usual good habits of cleanliness. A wealthy woman had a daily bath, often bathing not only in water, but in asses’ milk, which was supposed to nourish the skin. The nails were trimmed short and kept very clean, sometimes tinted with vegetable material. Before bedtime, women used face masks and creams to clear their skin. Body hair was removed by either shaving, plucking, “waxing” with resin paste, or scraping with a pumice stone.
A lady of the upper classes used jewelry, perfumes, and cosmetics. The Bible mentions some adornments, though of course it shows great objection to such unseemly and unchaste practices. We know more about the cosmetics used at the time from Roman, Greek, and Egyptian writings. Cosmetics were expensive, and considered a luxury, but while many objected to their use, even in worldly Rome, it did not stop women from using them.
The aim was to look white-skinned, but nevertheless healthy, so a whitening foundation was used
lavishly, made from all sorts of strange ingredients such as chalk powered mixed with lead, despite the fact that there were several writings on the danger of lead. Other ingredients used in whiteners included beeswax, olive oil, rosewater, saffron, animal fat, tin oxide, starch, cucumber, anise, mushrooms, honey, rose petals, poppies, myrrh, frankincense, almond oil, rosewater, lily root, water parsnip and eggs.
On top of the whitened face, the lady put light pink rouge on the cheeks, to show health. The most expensive rouge was made from red ochre, which needed to be ground into powder. Poisonous red cinnabar and lead were used, but also several types of plants and flowers, and even mulberry juice and wine could be applied.
Then came eye makeup, mostly kohl, which was made from soot and antimony, and applied with a round stick made of ivory, glass, or bone. The woman would dip the stick into oil, then into the powdered kohl, and apply it around the eyes in exactly the same way today’s women apply eyeliner. They also liked to apply eye shadow. It could be green, made from malachite, or blue, made from azurite; both were poisonous. The eyebrows had to be dark and almost meet at the center, so they were darkened with the same kohl used around the eyes, and extended inwardly to reach the right length over the bridge of the nose.
With such lavish use of cosmetics, it is interesting that the lips were not painted. Perfumes, on the
other hands, were heavily used. They came in all the forms we know now – liquid and solid –and included many of the ingredients still used today in the perfume industry.
The elegant woman had a small
room devoted to her beauty rituals, where her slaves assisted her in the
preparations. The cosmetics were kept there in expensive containers, made of
gold, ivory, bone, glass, or precious woods, and amazingly, the kohl and eye
shadow often came in compartmentalized tubes so each box could store a variety
of colors. The mirrors were usually hand held and made from polished metal, but
others were very much like modern mirrors – made from mercury that was pasted
behind a piece of glass. There is no evidence for the use of large mirrors
hanging on the walls, but other than this small difference, it seems that
little has changed in the ways a woman made herself beautiful in those days.