The climate in Gehennum is hot and sweaty, which discourages people from wearing many clothes. And the Gehennese do not have any significant exposure taboo. Therefore most people dress lightly, in simple and even scanty garments. It is usual to dress in only a single rectangular piece of cloth, though that can be folded, draped, and worn in any of multiple styles considered different garments, and it may be elaborately dyed, embroidered, fringed and so forth.

In ancient times, it seems, the Gehennese may have worn even less. The sarong (a loincloth simply wrapped around the waist) and the sirat (a more elaborate but scantier loincloth) are the only common garments that do not have an Elusian names and that are not copied from the leshy.

Note: for brevity, the descriptions which follow assume that the person wearing the garments is right-handed. Left-handers wear their clothes the other way around, i.e. swapping left and right in the descriptions.


By our standards, the Gehennese are very casual about clothing. Though it is not the done thing to go about unclothed in public, and while it is embarrassing to be under-dressed on formal occasions, there is no real nudity taboo. Nudity may be inappropriate or over-casual in many circumstances, but it is not offensive or obscene. People wear clothes for protection and adornment and especially as status symbols, not for modesty.

In Gehennum small children are usually not clothed except on special occasions, e.g. for parties and ceremonies.

The Gehennese naturally go nude to swim and to bathe. Public bathing, either in pools and streams or in elaborate public baths, is usual. Only the very wealthy have bathrooms in their houses, and those are usually used only by the elderly and by women.

Some sports such as archery call for protective kit, but apart from that nudity is the rule in athletic pursuits. Everyone is nude at the gymnasium, and the participants at least are naked at games.

People do not wear anything in occupations that would rapidly soil or especially damage clothes, except such protective clothing as might be required. So peasants planting rice, potters handling clay, fullers, dyers, butchers, and even surgeons usually work nude. So, for similar reasons, do people who are working small boats. Whereas on the other hand blacksmiths and foundry workers usually wear a hide wrapped and tied around their bodies or a leather peplos.

Flyers usually wear nothing on their upper torso because it would foul their wings. They favour the sarong and the zoma. Merfolk (or at least those who stick to a semi-aquatic way of life) eschew all garments of cloth as uncomfortable when wet and never dry. They will sometimes wear a tool-belt of woven palm fibre, but otherwise seldom dress beyond wearing a cord around their waist, a necklace, or a bow to tie back their hair. They proclaim status with jewellery and ornaments.

Finally: cloth is rather expensive. The poor sometimes can't afford clothes, or only for "best".


The simplest and most ancient Gehennese garment is a length of cloth (usually brightly coloured) wrapped twice around the waist or hips or above the bust and secured with a knot or twist, or by tucking the ends in, or by rolling the top down. According to taste and circumstances the sarong may be worn at any length from mid-thigh to ankle.

The sarong is an informal garment, worn under relaxed circumstances.


The sirat is a scantier but more elaborate loincloth than the sarong. It is also rather more secure than the sarong, and less inclined to hamper the legs when running or dancing, so it is favoured by young active people, especially those who have reason to be proud of their physiques. The sirat is less informal than the sarong, "dressy" but cool and light. The sirat is worn by dancers and often by musicians, and is affected by some devotees of Amaranth and Jolian.

The sirat is made of a long narrow strip of fine cloth, typically a span (~23 cm) wide and ten or eleven spans (2.3 to 2.5 metres) long. The colour is usually bright, and the ends are sometimes fringed, tasselled, or decorated with embroidery, batik, or tie-dyeing. One end is held against the chest while the other is passed between the legs, twice around the waist, and secured at the back by tucking it through, leaving the end to hang down at the back. Then the first end is dropped to hang down at the front.




A zoma is the scantiest of Gehennese garments: a loincloth with about the same coverage as a thong bikini. Zomas are favoured by flyers because they are the only garment that is truly convenient and comfortable when flying, by some dancers in very athletic dancing, by some men who require support for their genitals in athletic pursuits in which the dangling ends of a sirat would be a inconvenient, and, very occasionally, as sort of undergarment to a khlamys: adding a contrasting colour and providing a place to carry a knife.

The zoma is fundamentally similar to a sirat, except that the girdle section is wound only once around the waist or hips. The end that would dangle at the back is twisted around the girdle on the right hip, and the end that would dangle in front is passed back between the legs and twisted around the girdle on the left hip.



The peplos developed from a protective garment—a hide or animal skin wrapped around the torso, fastened over the shoulders, and cinched with a belt. Smiths still wear a similar leather peplos to protect them from embers, and some hunters, archers, and other light troops wear a leather peplos as light armour. The hide of a game animal may be worn as a peplos e.g. when hunting.

The peplos consists of a large rectangle of cloth wrapped around the left side of the torso, secured on each shoulder with a fibula or brooch, and [usually] girdled around the waist. Active and working people wear them fairly short (above the knee). Elegant variations for indoors wear may be full-length. The peplos is usually pulled up through the girdle to produce a bloused effect. It is possible to reach inside the bosom of the peplos through the opening on the right side, so a peplos can be good for carrying concealed weapons etc.

An elegant variation is to fold the top of the cloth over before wrapping it around the body. This produces an overfold as in the picture on the right.

People wearing a peplos while engaged in active pursuits may remove the brooch or fibula on the left shoulder to free the left arm.




The exomis is the simplest and least substantial of a number of garments that developed from a hide or a length of cloth draped over the left shoulder. The exomis involves a piece of cloth about a s long as the wearer is tall draped thus and then girdled around the waist. The folds of cloth are spread out under the girdle. The bunched cloth is give a half-twist on the shoulder to prevent its spreading down the arm

The exomis is simple, easy to wear, and comfortable, and the most common everyday garment for men. Solid colours are usual, and the exomis is often dark.


The khlamys is a cloak that developed from a hide worn on the left shoulder and arm as a means of defence in battle, often with two paws tied together on the right shoulder to fasten it. The bunched leather affords some protection to the arm, and may be used to parry a blow or missile. When the wearer is using a shield it protects the shoulder from thrusts and cuts that glance off the shield. Despite military progress, such hide cloaks are still worn by the lightest-armed troops as their principal means of defence.

The cloth khlamys is a derivative originally worn by armoured soldiers to help keep rain off their armour, thought it does also afford some protection to the shoulder, and can be used defensively when fighting without a shield. The khlamys is inferior to the hide as protection, but is a more practical garment: it is preferred by shielded troops and archers. Khlamyses are made of tightly-woven cloth, sometimes waterproofed with oil or wax. Those meant for the battlefield are often brightly coloured, but green and indigo khlamyses are made for hunting. Patterns and embroidery are rare, but a contrasting stripe near each end is common enough. The khlamys is worn over the left shoulder, fastened on the right shoulder with a fibula or brooch.




The himation is the most voluminous and most formal of the series of garments based on a length of cloth draped over the left shoulder. Worn by the leshy for warmth in cooler climates, the original version was voluminous and made of warm wool. In Gehennum it is worn as the most formal of garments: even so light hemp replaced the wool, and the himation was steadily abbreviated as the most elaborate styles were simplified.

The leshy himation began with a length of cloth over the left shoulder hanging to the knee at the back. The cloth was drawn diagonally across the chest, wrapped completely around the body, then drawn diagonally across the back and thrown over the shoulder to hang to the knee in front. The basic Gehennese version is arranged over the shoulder hanging to the knee either in front or in the back, drawn diagonally across the body, under the right arm, then diagonally across the body and back over the left shoulder, without the turn around the torso. Variations are numerous.

The leshy himation was usually a solid colour, sometimes with contrasting stripes on the long edge. Gehennese himations are often decorated with bright batik, sometimes embroidered, and sometimes edged with or made of lace.

The himation is an awkward garment, encumbering the left arm and preventing rapid or vigorous movement. That is of course part of the point: wearing an himation shows that one does not have to work.


The khiton is a sleeveless tunic that developed from a garment worn under armour as padding and to absorb sweat and prevent chafing. From its association with wealthy armoured troops it became an upper-class and semi-formal garment, though not so formal as the encumbering himation.

A khiton is made usually of fine cloth, sometimes sheer, textured (crepe, seersucker), or even lace, and usually brightly coloured or decorated with batik, printed patterns, wicked dyes, or embroidery. A length equal to twice the wearer's span is folded around the body under the left arm and gathered with stitchery or buttons on the shoulders leaving holes for the head and arms in the top. The opening under the right arm is sometimes sewn up and sometimes not. The khiton is their gathered at the waist with a girdle, and sometimes gathered into the chest with a cord around the shoulders and crossing the back.

Soldiers wear their khitons short and bloused up through the girdle. But as a semi-formal garment it is worn longer, sometimes down to ankle-length.

The khiton is unusual in being one of the few Gehennese garments that is sometimes worn with another garment: soldiers sometimes wear a khlamys over a khiton.



A ribbon or band of cloth tied around the head, constraining the hair, or around a helmet. The colour of, and any patterns on, a diadem usually proclaim the wearer’s rank, position, purpose, or group affiliation. For example, a saffron diadem is worn by an emperor, a monarch, a marshal, and a general; a yellow diadem, by a legate or other judge; a dark-green diadem, by a commissioned officer. A black diadem is worn by people acting under oath, such as jurors and witnesses giving testimony. A cloth-of-gold diadem is awarded to victorious generals and to victors at great games, and is the badge of an aretos. A person undertaking a rescue, desperate assault, or other gallant action will often wear a scarlet diadem. Soldiers and members of [[[fratery | frateries]] and abbeys often wear a diadem with a symbol identifying their tagma, fratery, or abbey embroidered on it.

See clothing and colours.


A low-crowned, broad-brimmed hat woven of vegetable fibre, perhaps palm-leaf, bast fibres, or fine grass straw. See clothing.


Included page "sandals" does not exist (create it now)


Cheap clothing is made of cloth woven from hemp fibre, a domestic product. Silk is an imported luxury, used only by the wealthy and for finery. With the exception of the khlamys and himations intended as travelling cloaks rather than formal wear, Gehennese cloth is woven rather thin, for coolth. As well as making plain cloth, Gehennese weavers understand diapering, damask and such patterned weaves, and the making of crépe, seersucker and the like, textured cloths favoured for the khiton.


Colours of course are very important. Clothes may be solid colours, or may have woven, embroidered, printed, tie-dyed, or batik patterns. Borders of contrasting colours are very common. Undyed clothing is for slaves, and apprentices, and the very poor.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.