(Redirected from GARMENTS.)
—In Biblical Times:

The general Hebrew designation for "costume" is "beged," applied indifferently to the garments of rich and poor, male and female. Other general designations are "keli," "lebush," "malbush," "tilboshet," and also "kesut." An exact description of the successive styles of costume in use among the people of the Bible is impossible, since the material at hand is insufficient.

The earliest garment was the apron around the hips or loins ("ḥagorah" or "ezor"), made, in primitive times, of the skins of animals. This apron developed in course of time into the undergarment ("ketonet" or "kuttonet" = χιτώυ, "tunica"), which was worn next to the skin (Gen. ix. 21; II Sam. vi. 20), and taken off at night (Cant. v. 3). (See Coat.) It seems to have been distinct from the "sedinim" = σιυδόυες (Judges xiv. 12 et seq.; Isa. iii. 23; Prov. xxxi. 24), usually designating undergarments of fine linen worn under the ketonet (compare the Assyrian "sudinnu").


In ancient times undergarments of this kind were held together by a girdle, made of linen (Jer. xiii. 1), leather (II Kings i. 8), or gold (Dan. x. 5), and called "ḥagor" or "ezor " in the case of the priests (Ex. xxviii. 4 et seq.), or "abneṭ" (Isa. xxii. 21) in the case of officials. The original dress of the Israelites changed somewhat under Syrian and Babylonian influence. On Egyptian monuments the Syrians are clad in long, tight-fitting upper garments, striped in blue and dark red, richly embroidered, and in yellow undergarments with tight-fitting sleeves, and tight trousers (compare Josh. vii. 21). Trousers, which are now worn in the East, especially by women (compare "Zeit. Deutsch. Paläst. Ver." iv. 62), are not mentioned among the appointments of an ordinary wardrobe, but the priests in later times (compare Ex. xx. 26) wore a garment resembling modern trousers ("miknasim" or "miknasayim"; Ex. xxviii. 42 et seq., xxxix. 28; Ezek. xliv. 18).


A cloak ("me'il") was generally worn over the undergarment (I Sam. ii. 19, xv. 27). This, like the me'il of the high priest, may have reached only to the knees, but it is commonly supposed to have been a long-sleeved garment made of a light fabric, probably imported from Syria. Every respectable man wore generally the upper garment ("simlah") over the ketonet; for any one dressed only in the ketonet was considered naked ("'arom"; I Sam. xix. 24; Amos ii. 16; Isa. xx. 2; Job xxii. 6, xxiv. 7, 10). The fellaheen of modern Palestine wear the "'aba-yah," a cloak usually black, or in black and brown stripes, which corresponds to the (outer) coat of the ancient Israelites.

Upper Garments.

The 'abayah consists of a rectangular piece of woolen cloth, sewed together so that the front and the two openings on the sides for the arms are unstitched. Like the fellah of to-day, so the poor Israelite of ancient times wrapped himself in this garment at night to keep warm (Ex. xxii. 26; Deut. xxiv. 13). Deuteronomy and the ordinances for the priests command that tassels ("gedilim," and "ẓiẓit") be attached to the corners of the coat (Deut. xxii. 12; Num. xv. 38 et seq.); and, according to the later interpretation, not given in Deuteronomy, these tassels were to serve the Israelites as a perpetual reminder to keep the commands of Yhwa At the breast the upper garment was arranged in a wide fold ("ḥeḳ; Ex. iv. 6), into which idlers put their hands (Ps. lxxiv. 11), and which was frequently used as a pocket (II Kings iv. 39; Hag. ii. 12). Since the upper garment was in the way when worn at work, it was either left at home or removed by the workman. It was made of the same materials as the lower one, in early times generally of wool, in Palestine of flax also; but later on purple stuff was imported from Phenicia, byssus from Egypt, and artistic weavings and embroideries from Babylonia (Josh. vii. 21; Zeph. i. 8). The nobles often dressed in white (Eccl. ix. 8; compare the garments of the priests), but it is probable that gorgeously colored garments, like those found on the Syrian figures in Egyptian monuments, were also much used. According to Deut. xxii. 11; Lev. xix. 19, garments woven of both wool and linen were forbidden, probably for superstitious reasons (compare Stade's "Zeitschrift," xx. 36 et seq.; See Sha'aṬnez).

At a later period the nobles wore over the upper garment, or in place of it, a wide, many-folded mantle of state ("adderet" or "ma'aṭafah") made of rich material (Isa. iii. 22), imported from Babylon (Josh. vii. 21). As costly garments were worn only on special occasions and removed immediately afterward, they were called "maḥalaẓot" (Isa. iii. 22; Zech. iii. 4) or "ḥalifot" (Gen. xlv. 22; Judges xiv. 12 et seq.). This was especially the case with garments worn during the service in the Temple, which, having come close to the divinity, had become, figuratively speaking, saturated with the divine effluvium and could easily imperil the wearer. Persons of higher rank, especially the princes, had a great number of these festive garments (II Kings x. 22), which were taken care of by a special keeper of the wardrobe (compare II Kings xxii. 14). They were not merely for personal wear (Job xxvii. 16), but, as in the East to-day, they were frequently offered as presents (Gen. xlv. 22; I Sam. xviii. 4; II Kings v. 5).

Women's Dress.

The dress of women corresponded in the main to that of the men. They also wore the ketonet and simlah. According to Deut. xxii. 5, however, there must have been some difference. The garments of the women were probably longer (compare Nahum iii. 5; Jer. xiii. 22, 26; Isa. xlvii. 2), provided with sleeves (II Sam. xiii. 19), and wider than those of the men, and therefore better adapted to conceal the figure (compare "Zeit. Deutsch. Paläst. Ver." iv. 60). The dress of noblewomen was distinguished for its luxury and ornaments (compare Isa. iii. 16 et seq.; Ezek. xvi. 10 et seq.), and was even scented with perfumes (Ps. xlv. 8; Cant. iv. 11; compare especially the catalogue in Isa. iii. 16et seq.). The luxury in dress displayed by women in the East at the present day suggests the probability of similarly luxurious habits on the part of their sisters of former times. Niebuhr saw women appear in eight or ten different dresses during one evening. Sandals ("na'alayim") of leather, fastened with a strap ("serok"; Gen. xiv. 23), were generally worn to protect the feet in summer against the burning sand, and in winter against the damp ground; but they were worn neither in the house nor in the sanctuary (Ex. iii. 5; Josh. v. 15). Otherwise, however, to walk about without sandals was a sign of great poverty (Deut. xxv. 19) or of deep mourning (II Sam. xv. 30; Ezek. xxiv. 17, 23).


Neither the monuments nor the written documents of Biblical times give any information of value concerning head-gear. On the marble relief of Sennacherib the Israelites appear uncovered; and while on the Shalmaneser stele Jehu's ambassadors have head-coverings, these are evidently patterned after the Assyrian fashion. Only one passage of the older literature (I Kings xx. 31) makes mention of "ḥabalim" that are wound around the head; these recall the Syrians on Egyptian monuments, who appear with a rope coiled around their long, flowing hair, as is still the custom here and there in Arabia. This custom, probably a very ancient one, did not long obtain, since it afforded no protection against the sun. It may be assumed, therefore, that even the ancient Hebrews had a style of head-covering still used by the Bedouins. This consists of a square woolen cloth ("kaffiyyah"), folded triangularly, and laid upon the head, over which one corner depends to protect the nape of the neck, while the two side corners are crossed under the chin and also hang down the back. A heavy woolen cord ("'aḳal") holds the cloth firmly on the head. In later times both men and women wore a covering more closely resembling the turban of the modern fellaheen of Palestine.

The cap (ṭaḳiyyah), often the only head-covering worn by boys, is generally made of two or three thicknesses of cotton cloth, intended to protect the rest of the head-covering against perspiration; over this are placed one, and often two, felt caps ("lubbadah"), and then the Turkish national head-covering ("ṭarbush"); finally a fringed cloth of unbleached cotton, a colored figured mandil, a yellow and red striped kaffiyyah, a black cashmere shawl, a piece of white muslin, or a green cloth is wound around this. This style of head-covering not only protects against the sun, but is also an admirable pillow, and serves as a repository for valuable documents (compare "Zeit. Deutsch. Paläst. Ver." iv. 57 et seq.). The use of a similar head-covering among the Hebrews seems to be indicated by the noun "ẓanif" (from the verb "ẓanaf"; Job xxix. 14; Isa. iii. 23), as well as by the verb "ḥabash," applied to the act of arranging the "ẓanif"; for the verb "ḥabash" means literally "to wind around," and the verb "ẓanaf" similarly signifies "to wind into a ball." It is possible that the various classes gradually came to use different forms of the turban.


Since the ancient Hebrews evidently knew nothing of the strict separation of men and women customary among the Moslems, the women wore veils only on certain occasions, as on the wedding-day (Gen. xxiv. 65, xxix. 22 et seq.). Later on, veils and gauze garments, adopted from other nations, apparently came into more general use among the Israelites (compare Isa.iii. 16 et seq.). The most common term for "veil" is "ẓa'if" (Gen. xxiv. 65), while "re'alot" (Isa. iii. 19) probably designates a veil consisting of two parts, one of which, adjusted above the eyes, was thrown backward over the head and neck, while the other, adjusted below the eyes, hung down over the breast. It does not follow from Ex. xxxiv. 33 et seq. that men also wore veils.

  • W. Nowack, Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Archäologie;
  • Benzinger, Arch. pp.97 et seq.;
  • Weiss, Kostümkunde; Brüll, Trachten der Juden;
  • Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.;
  • Biblical World, 1901.
E. G. H. W. N.Hellenic Influence. Costume of German Jews of the Thirteenth Century.(From Herrad von Landsperg, "Luftgarten.")—In Post-Biblical Times:

The dress indicated in the Talmud does not differ much from that described in the Bible. Rules were given for the order in which the different articles of dress were removed before a bath, and from this can be ascertained the costume of the ordinary Israelite of the time, which consisted, in order of removal, of shoes, head-covering, mantle, girdle, shirt, and finally a vest known by the Greek name "epikarsion" (Derek Ereẓ, Rabbah x.).Many, if not most, of the terms applied to articles of dress were derived from the Greek, and it is therefore probable that their form and style were Hellenic. Thus the sagum, or armless mantle of the laborer (Kel. xxix. 1); the dalmatic of the leisurely classes (Kil. ix. 7); the sudarium, or handkerchief (Shab. iii. 3; Sanh. vi. 1; compare Luke xix. 20); the pileum, or felt hat (Niddah viii. 1); and the stola (Yoma vii. 1) are all spoken of by their Greek names. A more complete enumeration of clothing in Talmudic times is given in Shab. 120a, in which the question is raised as to what clothes may be carried out of a burning house on Sabbath, Rabbi Jose limiting them to eighteen of the more necessary articles. The parallel passage in the Jerusalem Talmud gives different names, which fact points to a difference in costume between Palestine and Babylonia. Most of these names, as well as those in Yer. Kil. ix. 4 and in Massek. Ẓiẓit, p. 22, are of Greek origin, and indicate the extent of Hellenic influence on Jewish dress. The Jews even borrowed from the Romans the superstitious practise of drawing on the right shoe first (Derek Ereẓ R. x.; Shab. 61a), though previously the opposite custom had prevailed among them (Yer. Shab. vi. 2). The pænula, a round cape with hood, mentioned in Yer. Ḥag. i. 8, and generally used by day-laborers to protect their tunics from rain and snow, is contrasted with the ṭallit as a Japhetic or foreign garment (Gen. R. xxxvi.).

German Jew of the Early Sixteenth Century.(After Hans Burgkmair.)

Generally speaking, it may be assumed that the Jewish dress of Palestine, at least in the cities, was adapted in a large measure from that of the Romans; yet at times conservatives like the masters of the Law kept to the old Palestinian costume: the "gollok," which they wore under the ṭallit (B. B. 57b), is specially declared to be like the so-called" coat of many colors" of Joseph (Gen. R. lxxxiv.). Owing to the flowing character of the robes there was very little difference in male and female dress, so that Rabbi Judah and his wife were able to manage with one street-robe between them. The stola, for instance, was used indiscriminately by men and women. It was a long mantle of finer material than the tunic or shirt, girdled under the breast and provided with a stripe of a different color and sometimes embroidered with gold. It was often very expensive, costing occasionally as much as 100 minas (Shab. 128a). The waistcoat, or epikarsion, used by both men and women, was brought round under one arm and then knotted over the shoulder of the other (Niddah 48b; compare Miḳ. x. 4). The trousers or drawers of the ordinary Israelite differed from those of the priests of earlier times only by being provided with openings (Niddah 13b). In regard to covering for head and feet see Hat; Shoe.

Color. Jews of the Upper Rhine, End of the Sixteenth Century.(From the Basel "Stammbuch," 1612.)

Mourners as well as excommunicated persons (Yer. R. H. i. 3) wore black, as did those accused of adultery (Soṭah 7a); but shoes were not to be black, because the wearing of black shoes was a distinctively Gentile practise (Ta'an. 22a). White was used at weddings and other festivals, and for this reason was adopted for the festival of New-Year (Yer. R. H. i. 3); for special apparel as a sign of mourning see Mourning, and for the use of crowns on festive occasions see Crowns. Jewesses did not wear red, which was regarded as licentious (Ber. 20a). Jews were cautioned against adopting the many-colored or purple garments of the heathen, or their widepantaloons (Sifre, 81), and it became a general principle in later Jewish law that one should not follow in the ways of the heathen or use costumes peculiar to them (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 178, 1); and though this was interpreted as applying only to that kind of Gentile dress which was associated with some specifically religious practise, it was held that, if a religious principle were involved, it were better to face martyrdom than to change even the style of a shoelace (Sanh. 74b). The pious were particularly careful. Moses Sofer in his ethical will says: "Be careful of changing your name, language, or costume, which God forbid" ("Leb ha-'Ibri," i. 35). Only one exception was made to this general principle: those who were "near the government" were allowed and even recommended to wear the ordinary clothes of office (Yoreh De'ah, 178, 2). There is no definite proof that at distinctively Jewish dress was worn during the Middle Ages, either in Asia or in Europe. The gaon of Bagdad was clothed like a king ("Travels of R. Pethahiah," ed. Benisch, p. 43). Pethahiah himself noticed the difference between the costumes of Eastern and Western Jews (l.c. 11), the Persian Jews at that time wearing full and flowing outer robes. Considerable elegance was displayed by the wealthier classes. Gold embroidery is mentioned (Yer. Yoma vii. 3); and women were not above using false hair ('Er. 7b), and false teeth made of gold or silver (Sheb. 64b); the hair was also dyed (B. B. 60b).

Costume of a Jew of Swabia, Early Seventeenth Century.(After Daniel Meisner, "Politica Politice," 1700.)Importance of Dress.

Great importance was attributed to dress: "The glory of God is man, the glory of man is dress" (Derek Ereẓ, Zuṭa x.); dress was considered of even more consequence than food and drink: "Dear upon you, cheap within you" (B. B. 52a); and the rule was to dress according to your means, but to eat below them (Ḥul. 84b; but see Gen. R. xx.). The scholar especially was required to dress neatly and respectably. It was regarded as bringing shame upon scholarship if a learned person went out with botched shoes or darned garments (Shab. 114a). A bride was given a year to prepare the trousseau (Ket. 57a), and a man was obliged to give his wife each year one hat, one belt, three pairs of shoes (for the three feasts), and other articles of dress, amounting in all to fifty zuzim (Ket. 64b). While there was a strong tendency to adopt foreign costume, as shown by the names of garments, there was an equally marked tendency to avoid this, probably as part of the general principle of placing a fence about the law.

Influence of the Badge.

The great change came with the Lateran Council of 1215, which instituted the Badge. Innocent III. in the preamble to the law enforcing the badge complains that Jews were being mistaken for Christians. From this time onward there was little danger of such mistake. The tendency among the Jews themselves was to make a distinction between their own dress and that of their neighbors. In particular, black became the favorite color of the Jews in Spain, Germany, and Italy (Berliner, "Aus dem Innern Leben," 1st ed., pp.36-37). Their frequent expulsions caused them to carry into other lands the dress of their native places, and their natural conservatism caused them to retain it. The Rabbis, however, had throughout to contend with the innate tendency of the Jewess toward luxury and display, and they passed in vain many Sumptuary Laws.

An English Jew of the Stock Exchange.(From a caricature of the early eighteenth century.)

The only restriction on material is in the Biblical injunction against using garments "mingled of linenand woolen" (Lev. xix. 19; see Sha'aṬnez). The leather of forbidden animals would also be unsuitable for Jewish use. Generally speaking, the material used was of the richest kind for female dress, but was chosen more for use than for show in the case of the men.

Even from Talmudic times it was usual to reserve a better suit of clothes for the Sabbath. Every one should have two suits, one for week-days and one for Sabbath (Yer. Peah viii. 7), and where two suits are unattainable, the one should be differently arranged on Sabbath (Sanh. 113a). It is quite customary on modern Jewish holidays to carry out the Talmudic precept.

Regarding the costume of Jews in early Germany there are a few details in the sources given by Berliner in "Aus dem Innern Leben," 2d ed., pp. 62-65. The "Sachsenspiegel" speaks of the gray coats of the Jews, but black was generally recommended (Benjamin Ze'eb, Responsa, No. 282), though Jews might wear bright colors on journeys or in times of trouble ("Aggudah." 125b). Similarly fringes were disliked (Israel Isserlein, Responsa, No. 296), though the "kurse" worn by brides, a mantle with narrow sleeves, was trimmed with fur. Both sexes wore long garments. The Jew wore a "kappa" reaching to his heels, while on his head was placed a "mitra," or hood ("Maharil," pp. 36, 82). The mantle of the Jewess, however, was longer, and was held back by a brooch called a "nuschke" ("Or Zaru'a," ii. 39). The best-known garment worn by the German-speaking Jews was the white "sargenes," called "kittel" in the Rhine regions. This was made of silk, often embroidered, and flowed ungirdled to the feet (Menz, Responsa, No. 86). It was worn mainly on the Sabbath and on festivals, and was without the right armhole, so that the right arm could not profane the Sabbath. Later on it was used as a shroud, but the earliest notice of this refers to the beginning of the fourteenth century. Grünbaum ("Jüdisch-Deutsche Chrestomathie," pp. 502-504) derives it from "sarge," but Berliner (l.c. p. 132) from the Old High German "sarroc," or shirt. For garments for the dead see Shroud.

Tunis Jewess in Street Costume.(After a photograph.)

The pupils of Isserlein describe him as wearing a "geriffelte," a fur-lined mantle like that worn by women, with ruffles round the neck (Responsa, No. 297); but at the same time they state that only the older rabbis in Austria wore it. Sebastian Brant, in his "Narrenschiff," describes a particularly popular fringed mantle of his time as "Judisch syt" (Güdemann, "Erziehungswesen in Deutschland," Vienna, 1888, p. 274).

Medieval Costumes. Costume of a Jew of Algiers.(From a photograph.)

For information concerning the actual dress used by Jews in medieval and modern times, the portraits and caricatures of Jews found in manuscripts and books must be examined. These are rarely of Jewish origin except in the case of the illuminated Haggadot, and in these it is difficult to determine how far the illustrations represent specifically Jewish dress. In an early fourteenth-century Spanish manuscript Haggadah the tunics of the men come to apoint in front, while the women wear an outer mantle without sleeves which passes over the head, leaving the breast bare. The hat is large, and is worn toward one side of the head, with the back bent up and the front flat (Brit. Museum, Add. MS. 27,210). In an Italian Haggadah dated 1269 the women wear tight-fitting low dresses and have their hair fastened in nets and caps (ib. Add. MS. 26,957). The chief characteristic which will be observed in the first row of costumes in the accompanying plate is the length of the outer robe, which, except in the case of No. 12, a Swiss Jew of the fifteenth century, comes down to the feet. This points to the fact that the Jews during the three centuries indicated were debarred from handicrafts. A peculiarity that is particularly to be observed in the costume is that it exactly resembles that of the sedentary monk. The sole exception to the rule of the long outer robe is found in a representation (see illustration, p. 296) of a Jew of Swabia early in the seventeenth century, figured in Meisner's "Politica Politice," whereas the Italian Jew (No. 5) in the plate is more prepared for outdoor and a traveling life. With the Renaissance a new principle seems to have come into play: the Jews clung more tenaciously to their usual dress, and did not follow the innovations of fashion; so that they became distinguished by wearing the old-fashioned costume of their native country. The pictures of German Jews and Jewesses of the seventeenth century given by Hottenroth (Nos. 13, 15) do not differ in any respect from the ordinary dress of citizens of Worms, Nuremberg, and Frankfort, except by being somewhat old-fashioned. The same applies to the Jew and Jewess of Fürth (No. 18). Similarly, the costumes of Jews of Amsterdam depicted in Picart's "Coutumes Religieuses" exactly resemble those of the wealthier classes of Holland at that period.

Jewess of Brusa, Turkey.(After Racinet.)Sacred Vestments.

It is doubtful whether, since the destruction of the Temple, Jews have had anything corresponding to the sacred vestments of the Church—that is, garments exclusively used in the discharge of certain religious functions. Archeologists endeavor to prove that Christian sacred utensils and vestments were directly derived from the Jews (J. W. Legg, "Inventories of Christ Church, Canterbury," London, 1902, Introduction), but without considering the historic conditions. Since the days of the Temple there has been practically no priestly caste among Jews. Every layman is qualified to perform all ecclesiastical functions, except that of the dukan. Consequently there was no need for special vestments either within or without the synagogue. On the other hand, the injunction (Deut. xxii. 12 to wear fringes led to the use of the Arba' kanfot and the Ṭallit. Of recent years, however, and in Western countries, it has become customary for the Jewish clergy to adopt a distinctive garb. In the synagogue a velvet biretta is, perhaps, the most usual head-covering, with an ordinary academic gown, over which, on suitable occasions, the ṭallit is placed. Outside the synagogue there is a tendency to adopt the clerical dress of each country. Thus the chief rabbi of England wears a costume resembling that of the dean or bishop of the English Church, while a rabbi of a French consistory wears a hat with curved rims, and the lace bands, the broad sash, and surtout of a French parish priest.

In the East, Jewesses for the most part adopted the Mohammedan custom of wearing veils, though the custom was by no means so rigorously observed by them as by their Mohammedan sisters. In 1697 the Jews of Metz passed a law ordering all their women to wear veils when going to synagogue, except on Saturday nights, at the close of festivals, and on Purim. See Veil.

French Rabbi in Official Garb.(From a photograph.)

With regard to those modes of dressing the hair which go with certain costumes, see Beard; Hair; Pe'ot; Wig.

COSTUMES OF JEWS.1. France (c. 12th Cent.). 2. Germany (13th Cent.). 3. Germany Money-changer (12th Cent.). 4. Italy (14th Cent.). 5. Italy Merchant (14th Cent.). 6. France (14th Cent.). 7. Germany (15th Cent.). 8. and 9. Constance (1417.). 10. Holland? (15th Cent.). 11. Italy (15th 16th Cent.). 12. Switzerland (15th 16th Cent.). 13. Germany (Worms, 16th Cent.). 14. Germany (Nuremberg, 17th 18th Cent.). 15. Germany (Frankfort on the Main. 17th 18th Cent.). 16. Holland; Rabbi (c.1700). 17. Germany: Jew in Praying Allire (Fürth, Early 18th Cent.). 18. Germany (Füurth, Early 18th Cent.). 19. Turkey (18 Cent.). 20. Cochin (Early 19th Cent.). 21. Algiers (Early 19th Cent.). 22. Tunis (Modern.). 23. Tunis Jewess in Street Allire (Modern.). 24. Salonica (Modern). 25. Constantinople (c.1850.). 26. Jerusalem (Modern.). 27. Poland (18th 19th Cent.). 28. Russia (Early 19th Cent.). 29. Lithuania (Modern.). 30. Russia Karaite (c.1850.).

In Eastern countries both law and custom compel a distinct difference in costume between Jew and Moslem, which difference was also enforced by Jewish law ("Kehunuat 'Olam," p. 14). Green veils are avoided because these are distinctive of descendants of Mohammed. In Egypt, Jews were obliged to wear yellow turbans. The dress of an Oriental Jew, especially when on his travels, is described at length by Ezra Stiles in his "Diary" (p. 362), but it would be dangerous to regard his description as typical.

Striped clothing is one of the striking characteristics of the Oriental male Jewish dress. This seems against the medieval principle of avoiding party-colored garments. It is not an invariable custom, but is frequent enough to deserve mention.


A contemporary Jewess of Algiers wears on her head a "takrita" (handkerchief), is dressed in a "bedenor" (gown with a bodice trimmed with lace) and a striped vest with long sleeves coming to the waist. The "mosse" (girdle) is of silk. The native Algerian Jew wears a "ṭarbush" or oblong turban with silken tassel, a "ṣadriyyah" or vest with large sleeves, and "sarwal" or pantaloons fastened by a "ḥizam" (girdle), all being covered by a mantle, a burnus, and a large silk handkerchief, the tassels of which hang down to his feet. At an earlier stage the Algerian Jewess wore a tall cone-shaped hat resembling those used in England in the fifteenth century (Jew. Encyc. i. 384; see also plate, No. 21). The costume of Tunis is very similar, and was described by Mordecai Noah as follows ("Travels in the Barbary States," p. 311, New York, 1819):

"The Barbary Jews wear a blue frock, without a collar or sleeves, loose linen sleeves being substituted, with wide drawers of the same article, no stockings, excepting in winter, and black slippers, a small black skull-cap on their head, which is shaved, and around which a blue silk handkerchief is bound; they are permitted to wear no colors. The Italian Jews dress like Christian residents, with the addition of a haick, or bournouse, thrown over their heads. The Jewish women, like the Turkish, are considered as an inferior race—they are fat and awkward, their dress consisting of a petticoat of silk of two colors, principally yellow and purple, around which is thrown, in several folds, a thin gauze wrapper; the head is covered with a colored silk handkerchief; those who are single have their hair plaited in two or three rows, to the end of which they suspend colored ribands; they wear no stockings, but slippers, with silver cinctures around their ankles; and the soles of their feet, their hands, nails, and eyebrows, tinged and colored of a dark brown, from the juice of a herb called henna. When they walk they unloosen from their neck a piece of black crape, with which they cover their mouth and chin, leaving the upper part of their face bare."

Whatever the costume, in almost every case the outer garment is supported by a belt or girdle. This has Biblical authority, and besides enables the ultra pious to carry a handkerchief as a girdle on Sabbath; on other occasions the handkerchief is tucked inside the girdle, as is seen in a curious caricature of an English Jew of the Stock Exchange, as well-as in a figure after Hans Burgkmair showing a Jewish pedler of the sixteenth century wearing a relatively modern felt hat (see illustrations, pp. 295 and 296). In the eighteenth century the Jew generally wore the ordinary three - cornered hat of the time, and even had his hair powdered (Arye ben Ḥayyim, Responsa, No. 6).

Jews of Jerusalem.(From a photograph by the American Colony, Jerusalem.)Turkish.

In Turkey the costume of the Jews was mainly distinguished by the black turban, but the outer garment was an "'antari," a robe opening in front, of silk or figured calico, reaching a little below the knee and fastened round the waist by a sash passing twice round the body; over this was a "jubbah" lined with cats' fur. Some wore the "bunneṭah," or conical hat; some the "meminah," a cap of dark cloth round which a piece of silk was twisted several times like a turban. The modern Turkish Jew adopts mainly European dress with a fez. An especially dignified dress is that of the Jew of Salonica (see plate, No. 24). His 'antari is covered by a "kundi," a long, showy, varicolored mantle lined with fur. The 'antarireaches to his feet, and the sleeves are longer than that of the jubbah, under which is to be seen the "salṭah" or cloth fur-lined vest. The Jews of Brusa wear a high cap of pasteboard covered with black material, resembling the cylindrical hats worn by Greek priests. Around this is wound a piece of light-colored cotton to form a turban. This is the only distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish dress in Brusa. The Jewesses there have a house-dress and a street-dress. At home she wears an 'antari, often of rich silk, open in front, and fastened round the waist by a shawl; and a sleeveless "hyrka," or vest, lined with fur and trimmed with a band of the same. Her head-dress consists of an enormous "hotoz," which entirely covers her hair. This is covered by a "yashmak" when she goes out. The Jewesses of Rhodes also have a distinctive costume consisting of cotton 'antari and "chalwar" (puffed pantaloons of cloth), with a jubbah of silk or fine cloth, which covers all but the slashed sleeves of the 'antari. As a head-dress she wears a "takke" (cotton cap) hidden by two handkerchiefs.

Jews of Constantinople, Eighteenth Century, Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles.(From an old print.)

The Jewesses of Aleppo are distinguished among all the women of the East for displaying their hair, which is twisted into a spiral arranged high upon the head in the form of a dome. Their dress consists of a silken 'antari with broad red and yellow stripes, shalwar (pantaloons), "mintan," vest of the same material as the 'antari, with very long sleeves, hurka of plain taffeta, and a shawl of plain silk and cotton used as a girdle and tied in the front. They wear soft shoes and yellow "pabujas." In Jerusalem one Jewess has been described as wearing a "fistan" (gown) of dark-green satin trimmed with gold embroidery over the plaited skirt, the hem of which is also trimmed with embroidery, as well as the long open sleeves which open out of the narrow sleeves of the "salṭah," or jacket of white cashmere. The hotoz is built up from a large number of figured "yemeni" and twisted one above the other in the form of a melon; round the lower edge is a row of gold coins; a small veil of white muslin is fastened to the top of the hotoz and is gathered round the face.

M. Fr.

The Jews of the Caucasus are distinguished mainly by their head-dress, the men wearing a kind of busby, mushroom-shaped and made of fur, while the Jewish women and girls cover their heads with a hood attached to a mantle with full sleeves (see illustration, p. 301). The men carry weapons freely, which is quite exceptional among Jews.

The Jews of Cochin are in no way distinguished in their dress from the Hindus of their district. The black Jews wear the garb of day-laborers, a thin linen jacket and a long robe, the former being removed while at work. The white Jews wear a kind of paletot, and under this a waistcoat buttoned up to the chin; both classes wear a cap resembling a smoking-cap. In earlier times the men used to wear the gored pantaloons and white turbans of the Mohammedans of India (see plate, No. 20).

Rabbi of the Orient.(From a photograph.)

The Ḥasidim of Galicia tend to distinguish themselves in dress as well as in customs; besides the fur hat and the old-fashioned "paletot" reaching to theankles, the modern Ḥasid is invariably to be recognized by the pair of white socks into which the trousers are tucked.


A number of superstitions have grown up about costume among the Jews of eastern Europe, though they have doubtless copied many of them from their neighbors. For every new garment a child puts on, the parents give a small sum in charity; and it is customary to dress a bridegroom, as soon as he is betrothed, in entirely new clothes. It is bad for the memory to put off or on two garments at the same time, or to put on one that has been washed within seven days. It is unlucky to put on a garment upside down or to catch it in a nail, the latter being a sure sign that an enemy is pursuing you. It is unlucky for two persons to dress a child at the same time: it may die or become sick. If you are mending your dress hold a part of it in your mouth, or it will tie up your memory.

The following is a table of illustrations of costumes in the first four volumes of The Jewish Encyclopedia:

  • Volume I.: Aaron, Son of the Devil, page 8; N. M. Adler, 198; Mauricio colonists, 243; Baron d'Aguilar, 274; Algerian Jewess, 384; Chinese Jews, 431; Amsterdam Jews, Jewesses, and children (Picard), 543.
  • Volume II.: Moses Arragel, page 139; Benj. Artom, 156; Ẓebi Ashkenazi, 202; Atonement, Day of, 283-285; badge, 425-426; Bagdad, 437; Jerusalem Jew. 614; beard, 614; Belais, 652.
  • Volume III.: Mordecai Benet, page 14; Beni-Israel, 18-19; Isaac Bernays, 90; betrothal, 126-128; Bokhara, 293-295; bridegroom of the Law, 383; Brussels, 407-408; burial, 432-437; Raphael Isaac Carregal, 592; Caucasus, 628-629; Ẓebi Chajes, 660.
  • Volume IV.: China, page 36; Cochin, 135-136; Cohn, Tobias, 161; Constance, 235; Cracow, 326-328; Death, 485; Delmedigo, Joseph, 508; disputation; divorce. For sources of the figures in the colored plate of costumes of Jews see List of Illustrations.
Jew of Kolomea, Austrian Galicia.(After a photograph.)
  • A. Brüll, Trachten der Juden, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1873.
  • Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, ch. xv.-xvi.;
  • Hottenroth, Deutsche Volks-Trachten;
  • Popular Costumes of Turkey, 1873;
  • Picart, Coutumes Religieuscs;
  • Lacroix, Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, London, 1874:
  • Racinet, Le Costume Historique, Paris, 1876;
  • Rev. Et. Juives, passim.
A. J.—In Russia and Poland: Jews of the Caucasus in Native Costume.(After a Photograph by Orden.)Polish Jewess and Jew of the Eighteenth Century.(After Le Prince, 1765.)

In the Middle Ages the Jews of Poland and Lithuania dressed like their Christian neighbors, as is indicated clearly by Cardinal Commendoni in his well-known description of the condition in which he found the Jews when he visited Poland in 1561 ("Czacki Rosprawa o Zydach," p. 93). The special garb which, in medieval times, the Jews of Germany and other European countries were compelled to wear (see Bruno Köhler, "Allgemeine Trachtenkunde," iii. 100) was not known in Poland. There is, in fact, seemingly reliable evidence that the so-called Jewish garb of Poland, including even the "jarmulka" (undercap), is simply the old Polish costume which the Jews retained after the Poles had adopted the German form of dress (see Plungian, "Ben Porat," p. 59, Wilna, 1858, quoting from Russian sources). As the Jews lived under their own jurisdictionpractically until the division of Poland, and as the interior of Russia had no Jewish population before the acquisition of the Polish provinces, all Russian legislation on the subject of Jewish costumes is naturally confined to the nineteenth century.

Warsaw Jew and Jewess of the Early Nineteenth Century.(From Hollaenderski, "Les Israelites de Pologne.")Law of 1845.

At first such legislation was limited only to special occasions. The "Polozhenie," or enactment concerning the Jews, issued by Alexander I. in 1804, permitted those Jews who adopted the German style of dress to visit the provinces of Russia outside of the Pale of Settlement, and allowed Jewish boys attending lower schools to retain their distinctive costumes, while at the high schools they were obliged to wear the German dress. The "Polozhenie" issued by Nicholas I. (April 13, 1835) reenacted this statute, with the addition that Jewish students at the universities must wear the costumes usual in those institutions, and that Jews elected to civil offices must wear the apparel fixed by law for such municipal dignitaries. In December, 1841, the Jews then actually residing in Riga received the permission of the government to remain there permanently on condition that they would conform to the dress of the inhabitants. The law of April, 1845, compelled all Jews in Russia to assume the German costume. The progressists among the Jews of Russia considered the law a great victory for their cause, and scoffed in prose and poetry at the consternation caused among the old-fashioned (Levanda, in "Den," 1870, Nos. 6-17; I. M. Dick, "Die Jüdische Kleiderumwechslung," Wilna, 1870; Goldberg, "Massa' Ẓafon," in "Kokbe Yiẓḥaḳ," No. 35).

But the strictly Orthodox not only had religious scruples against wearing the costume of the Gentiles, which is prohibited, though not clearly and decisively, by Maimonides, and the Shulḥan 'Aruk (Yoreh De'ah, 178), but considered the new law as another one of the many efforts of the emperor to Christianize them by force. It caused as much dismay as the worst decree of that harsh reign, and the number of Jews who preferred to suffer the penalty rather than comply with the law was so large that its enforcement was postponed for five years. But the suspension of the law, like most acts of the Russian government, was not complete, and some of the taxes were still collected which had been imposed upon those who desired exemption from that law. Among such taxes was that collected for wearing jarmulkas, which seems to have been collected in various places in an irregular manner, but was finally compounded, by a special decree of Feb. 11, 1848, for a tax of five rubles annually, the proceeds to go to the fund of the "korobka" (basket tax). The decree was reenacted May 1, 1850, to take effect Jan. 1, 1851, giving permission, however, to the governors-general of the various provinces to allow Jews over sixty years of age to continue the old garb.

Present Day. Ḥassid and Wife of the Early Nineteenth Century.(From Hollaenderski, "Les Israelites de Pologne.")

Now that the costume laws are obsolete the Jews dress as they please. Old-fashioned Jews still cling to the long frock-coats and cloaks, length being the distinguishing feature of all kinds of Jewish costumes (see Carl Köhler, "Trachten der Völker in Bild und Schrift," p. 300, Dresden, 1871). The preference for silk, velvet, and expensive furs, against which the Jewish Council of the FourLands legislated from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, still prevails in many parts of Russia, though it is waning. The ḥasidim, especially in the smaller towns of Poland, Podolia, and Volhynia, still use the old-time Jewish costume with some modifications. This includes the long coat; short white trousers, or rather knee-breeches, which also serve instead of underwear; long white stockings; and low, slipper-like shoes. The "arba' kanfot," or "little ṭallit," takes the place of a vest; the girdle, and—with the more pretentious—the "stramele" or "spodek" (round fur cap) over the jarmulka, complete the costume, which is not much unlike that described by Holländerski as worn before the government began to legislate on the subject. In larger and more progressive places, as well as in Russia proper, most of the Jews dress like their Christian neighbors, always with a tendency, among the older people, toward longer coats. The dress of Jewish women never differed much from that of other women, and any difference was more in the material used than in the form or style. Further descriptions of Jewish costumes in Russia will be found in the articles on the respective provinces and governments.

  • V. O. Levanda, Polny Khronlogicheski Sbornik Zakonov, etc., §§ 59, 77, 404, 446, 578, 620, 643, 789, St. Petersburg, 1874;
  • Jost, Neuere Geschichte der Israeliten, ii. 312-313;
  • A. L. Feinstein, in Ha-Asif for 5654, pp. 171 et seq., Warsaw, 1893;
  • L. Holländerski, Les Israélites de Pologne, pp. 224-225, Paris, 1846.
H. R. P. Wi.