Tag Archives: Ancient Minoan

Early Cretan Libation Vessel

Ancient Greece. Minoan bull figure. Palace of Knossos. Minotaur.

Bull head of Knossos.

Early Cretan Libation Vessel: Remarkable relic from the city of Minos, The Minotaur.

Minoan Snake Goddess. Ancient Greek Statue.


Snake Goddess. Ancient Minoan Matriarchy Female Costume. Antique Greek statue

Faience Figure of Snake Goddess

The Snake Goddess

This figure appears to be wearing:—

  • (1) A skirt, made without gathers, touching the ground evenly all round, decorated with horizontal lines representing either tucks or embroidery or woven stripes in the material. The skirt is bordered with a reticulated pattern at the hem, enclosed within a double line of edging.
  • (2) A double apron or ‘polonaise’ made without fulness, reaching to the knee at the back and front, and rising to the hips at the sides. It is not improbably cut as an oval, and the head inserted through a hole in the middle as in the modern ‘poncho.’
  • It is decorated round its edge by a ‘guilloche’ pattern within plain bands. This decoration may be embroidery. The hem of this garment has the appearance of being slightly wadded or stuffed to produce a rope-like edge. The material is covered with a spotted pattern in relief.
  • (3) A tight-fitting jacket bodice of rich stuff, decorated, apparently, in embroidery, with a pattern formed of ‘volutes.’ The short sleeves cover the top of the shoulder and reach half-way to the elbow.
  • In front the bodice is cut away in a V shape from the shoulders to a point at the waist, leaving the neck and both breasts absolutely bare. From just below the breasts the edges of the jacket seem to be braided in curved patterns, and laced across from this braiding by cords. These cords are tied in bow-like knots. The front of this jacket is edged all round by a spotted snake.
  • (4) A high cap or tiara, perhaps of cloth, wound round in spiral fashion.
  • The hair of the figure falls to the shoulders in long locks, and is arranged beneath the high cap in a ‘fringe’ of regular strands of hair.

The Votary.

Matriarchy Female Votary. Knossos Minoan costume. Ancient Greek clothing. Antique Greece statue.

Faience Figure of Female Votary of Minoan Snake Goddess

Matriarchy Female Votary. Knossos Minoan costume. Ancient Greek clothing. Antique Greece statue.

Faience Figure of Female Votary: Back View

The outline of this Votary’s dress is similar in general character to that of the Goddess, but offers a few variations, viz.:—

  • (1) The skirt consists of seven flounces fastened apparently on a ‘foundation,’ so that the hem of each flounce falls just over the head of the one below it. Vertical stripes of a darker colour, of irregular width, appear on hem. The topmost flounce shows two narrow horizontal lines on each hip, probably a ‘heading’ to finish off the flounces.
  • (2) Over this skirt is worn a double apron or ‘ polonaise’ similar to that of the Goddess, but not falling so deeply, and not so richly ornamented.
  • The main surface is covered with a reticulated pattern, each reticulation being filled with horizontal lines in its upper half. The general effect is that of a check or small plaid. A triple line of decoration edges this ‘polonaise.’ The hem of it is thickened, perhaps by ‘ wadding.’ Seen from the back this thick edge seems to denote a fastening on each hip. The front and side views of the right hip give this fastening (?) the appearance of a thick roll, suggestive of a snake.
  • (3) The bodice seems to be made of a plain material, and is cut in similar fashion to that of the Goddess, with rather longer sleeves. From the top of the shoulder down the sleeve, and continued at right angles round the arm, runs a line of lighter coloured decoration, perhaps braiding. Instead of the snake edge to the jacket, seen on the other figure, a rope-like border runs round the bodice and also round the sleeves, which terminate just above the elbow. The bodice is cut away so as to expose both breasts, as with the Goddess, and is similarly laced, though the braiding, from which the lacing springs, is not, perhaps, quite so rich.
  • (4) The snake girdle of the Goddess is replaced on this figure by a stiff belt. The whole costume of both figures seems to consist of garments carefully sewn and fitted to the shape without any trace of flowing draperies.
  • The bodies of the figures are closely confined within their bodices, except where they open in front. The lines adopted are those considered ideal by the modern corset maker rather than those of the sculptor.
Ancient Greece figure. Minoan Snake Goddess Costume, Knossos, Crete. Sir Arthur Evans

Priestess of Snake Goddess, Knossos 2000 B.C.

A Striking Relic of Snake worship in Crete during the Minoan Age.

This dainty faience figure does not represent the Snake Goddess herself, but her votary or priestess. In her right hand the votary carries a small snake, tail upwards, and the left hand, which is missing, probably held another reptile in a similar position. Over her many flounced skirt she wears a double apron, a ritualistic survival of a primitive garment once to both sexes. Generally, the votary`s costume may be regarded as characteristic of feminine fashion in Minoan Crete. (Photograph from Sir Arthur Evans, “The Palace of Minos”.)

Ancient Greece Costumes. Minoan Snake Goddess costume. Greek Fresco Cup-Bearer.

Snake Goddess and Cup-Bearer

Above Photograph shows the Snake Goddess from Knossos, ca. 2000 B.C. Beside her a Cup-Bearer from a fresco at Knossos ca. 1500 B.C.


Minoan costume. Our Lady Of The Sports.


Our lady of sports. Ancient Minoan costume. Knossos sculpture. Ancient Greek costume

Our lady of sports

Minoan costume. Our Lady Of The Sports with male loincloth, Knossos.

Chryselephantine Image of Goddess with male Loinclothing: Our Lady Of The Sports

Ancient Minoan Goddess Costumes. Corset, male loin. Knossos, Crete Figurine, sculpture

Fig. 16 a, b, c, – Goddess in corset

Views of Corset, Girdle and male loin attire of figurine in gold plate “Our Lady Of The Sports”.

Emergence of Chryselephantine Image of Goddess in Garb resembling Taureador’s.

A remarkable chryselephantine image that has now seen the light seems to show that in this case, at least, her cumbrous robes were discarded and that the Goddess herself was very nearly assimilated to the guise, ceremonially assumed, of the girl taureadors who performed in her honour travestied as youths. This figure may be regarded as representing the third Epiphany of members of a divine group standing certainly in the closest relation to those of the ‘ Ivory Deposit’ in the ‘Domestic Quarter’ of the Knossian Palace.
It presents the greater part of a female figure of which, however, the legs from the knees downwards and the right arm, except the hand, are wanting. The extreme height of the part preserved was 17-8 centimetres or about 7 inches. From the photographic record of the remains as originally found, reproduced in Suppl. PI. XLIII, it will be seen that, with the above exceptions, both the ivory core of the image and the gold plating with which it was so richly overlaid were remarkably well preserved, though the ‘Minoan sheath’ had become detached, as shown in Suppl. PI. XLIII. The plating was fastened by small gold pins or rivets.

Ancient Minoan Goddess Costumes. Corset, male loin. Knossos, Crete Figurine, sculpture

Fig 14. – Ivory figure of Minoan Goddess as ‘ Lady of the Sports ‘, with dress and Ornaments in Gold Plating. Found in Crete.

As will be seen by a comparison of Figs. 14, 15 depicting the figurine in its present condition, very little has been required in the way of restoration beyond the filling in of some cracks and the symmetrical replacement of the right arm below the hand in conformity with that on the left, preserved, with its articulation.

Ancient Minoan Goddess Costumes. Corset, male loin. Knossos, Crete Figurine, sculpture

Fig. 15. Back Of Chryselephantine Figure Of The Minoan Goddess

This consists of a square-cut tenon, a centimetre long and about 0-4 cm in diameter, fitting into a mortise-hole with a lining” of metal, apparently silver. This arrangement exactly answers to that of the taureadors of the ‘Ivory Deposit’ at Knossos, though it does not appear that in that case there was a metal lining within the mortise-holes. The length of the arms when complete was 9 centimetres (c. 3 1/2 inches), as extended, very closely corresponding with those of the ‘Leaping- Youth’. Otherwise their action, in the latter case, stretched forward to their utmost extent, contrasts with the bent position of the arms of the present statuette.
The female personage before us at once strikes the eye as of a very different character from that of the girl performers in the Minoan bull-sports as portrayed for us in the frescoes and small reliefs, notwithstanding the fact that she shares with them the male loin-attire that is the most distinctive article of her apparel.

Matronly corset combined with male loin attire.

These performers—whether they display their acrobatic skill in the Palace Circus or the open field—are consistently depicted with a very slight pectoral development, so much so that in the wall-paintings, were it not for the convention of the white skin colouring, it might be difficult to distinguish them from the youthful male taureadors who take part in the same scenes. But the figure before us presents the full breasts of a very matronly stage and their decidedly prominent contours have brought with them as a corollary the need for artificial support. This is supplied by the stays, of which we find the indication about them in open gold work, somewhat suggestive of the whalebones of more recent feminine attire. As will be seen from Fig. 16, a, b, and the back view, c, this corset has no visible continuation behind, though its two posterior borders may, however, in reality have been connected by some piece of stuff. It was suspended above from the shoulders, as we see, by means of two bands, that might be described as very short sleeves.
Stays on the same principle are to be seen on the marple statuette of the Goddess in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Fig. 17, a, b, and on the faence figure of what should be regarded as a double of the ‘Snake Goddess’, from the Temple Repositories at Knossos. In these cases the corset proper is part and parcel with a jacket, the sleeves of which extend some way down the upper arms. The two Knossian examples supply evidence of the lacing together of this bodice by means of looped knots.

Ancient Minoan Goddess Costumes. Corset, male loin. Knossos, Crete Figurine, sculpture

Fig. 17 a, b, c, – Corset and ‘ Apron ‘ of ‘ Fitzwilliam Goddess ‘.

The Cambridge Goddess, on the other hand, has a knob in front (see Fig. 17, a), which Mr. Wace ingeniously interprets as the head—set at right angles—of a metal pin that passed ‘downwards, over and under the bands of braid’ or some similar material. In the case of the chryselephantine image before us there is no certain clue to the means of fastening the corset, but the gold rivet by which its upper angle, between the breasts, is attached to the ivory, may mark the place of such a pin-head.
As in analogous cases, the lower border of the corset or bodice corresponds, so far as it is visible, with the upper border of the belt. The central band of the Minoan belt seems to have been of metal, but each of the rolled upper and lower zones may well represent ‘a padded cushion-like belt of some elastic material’. The upper of these would have overlain the edge of the bodice, while the lower would have caught the upper edge of the skirt, or of the male loin-clothing.

It is this masculine arrangement that we see here adopted.

Like the corset above and the belt itself, this loin-clothing consists of a thin gold plate decorated with rows of punctuations and small embossed disks, and showing barred openwork analogous to that of the stays. Behind, as usual, is a tongue-shaped piece which should cover the upper part of the buttocks and narrows to a point below, where it was drawn between the legs. In the present instance the gold plating that represents this flap-like section of the loin-cloth shows only the lower point and the borders, the central portion being wanting.
In front, where in the original the cloth would have been drawn up between the legs, the corresponding section also narrows to a point below. It is on the centre of this that the ‘cod-piece’, the distinguishing feature of the Minoan male attire, is riveted on by small gold pins above.
It will be seen from the examples of this article of apparel given in Fig. 12, above, as worn by both the ordinary Minoan men and by the female taureadors, that it exactly corresponds with them. The usage finds a parallel—as already shown: — in the ‘ Libyan Sheath’ or ‘penistasche’, still extant in parts of Nigeria, and the strong proto-Libyan element discernible in the early culture of the Southernmost Cretan region may help to explain the African analogy.

By Sir Arthur J. Evans. The Palace of Minos.

(Ancient Egypt, Minoan, Assyria, Roman, Levante fashion history)

  1. Assyrian and Babylonian culture and fashion.
  2. Egyptian costume history.
  3. Minoan costume history.
  4. The Minoan Snake Goddess.
  5. The ancient Greek costume history by THOMAS HOPE.
  6. The Amazons.
  7. Ancient Roman costume history. B.C. 53 to A.D. 450..
  8. Ancient Costumes of the Persians and other Asiatics.
  9. Ancient Costume History of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and others.
  10. The Roman Tunica or Greek Chiton.
  11. The Roman Paenula. The cowl or hood.
  12. On the origin of the pants by Max Marcuse
  13. The Toga and the manner of wearing it.
  14. The Corset and the Crinolin: Costume history from ancient to 19th c.
  15. The Gallic and Gallo-Roman costume period.
  16. The shields of the Gauls. Clans in the Roman Empire.
  17. The Barbarian Invasions. The Migration Period in Europe, 395-527 A. D.
  18. Roman legionary in full armor.
  19. Roman Britain. Maps, Places, Tribes. Historical atlas.
  20. Celt and Roman. History of England 43 BC to 440 AD.
  21. Gallic and Gallo-Roman helmets of Celtic warriors.
  22. The Roman Paenula. The cowl or hood.
  23. Roman, Greece and Egypt. The Corset and the Crinolin fashion history.
  24. Frankish Merovingian costume history. 4th and 5th century.
  25. Byzantine costume history. 5th to 6th century.
  26. The Carolingian fashion period 752-987. Reign of Charlemagne.
  27. The Carolingian Fashion Period 987 to 1270.
  28. Europe in the time of Charles the Great 768 – 814. Maps and Places.
  29. Alfred the Great. The first English king.
  30. King Harold II. Last Anglo-Saxon king of England.
  31. Monachism. Monastic costumes history.
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