Prehistoric Fashion

Apparently, all the ancient civilisations were fashion aware. Egyptian women used a lot of makeup. In the Roman Empire, noble families had their own styles of wearing toga. Many wall paintings, sculptures and everyday items found on archaeological sites of any of these cultures can lead us to such conclusions. 

In the Vučedol Culture, an Eneolithic culture that developed in Europe, at the same time when the ancient Egypt flourished in Northern Africa, there were sophisticated design principles – unique patterns reflected on ceramic, metal and even clothes, so archeologist could determine how far this culture had gone across Europe, reaching as much as 16 today’s countries. Every time a piece of ceramic with that pattern is found on some place, scientists know that a Vučedol culture community lived there.

While the woods, leathers and textiles cannot survive centuries and millenniums being buried bellow the layers of newer civilisations, ceramic is fairly resistant, and even when archaeologists find broken pieces, there are many ways to reconstruct the whole objects. Sometimes there are broken pieces of a single item, so the pieces can be sticked to each other and exposed as an original.

The Vučedol Patterns

That way, on various sites where some Vučedol communities were found, the archaeologists found some types of idols or similar human-like figures, wearing typical clothes. Furthermore, those typical patterns are found on practically all the items created by the Vučedolians. In the next episode, I’ll talk more about a deeper significants of those patterns.

Reconstruction - how could European prehistoric clothes look like?

These pieces of clothes (along with some pairs of shoes, also designed according to the shapes found on site) were made by the Croatian fashion designer Etna Maar, as a kind of imagination about how the real clothes and shoes could look like.

In my opinion, these clothes look fantastic, and I would like to have something like this in my wardrobe 😀

Vučedol people were innovative in ways they produced clothes and footwear. The weaving was made on a vertical weaving loom, not only in Vučedol, but in most of cultures from Neolithic to Roman times. However, Vučedol people preferred to use a thiner type of vertical weaving loom, that resulted in thiner pieces of fabric. When necessary, several units could be joined, so they formed a larger piece of fabric. Flat ceramic weights were used as a driving force for the spindle onto which spun threads of wool or flax were wound.

Oh, footwear.

There is a fun fact – a perfectly preserved ceramic model of a winter boot was found on this site – by Mirela Hutinec, the Museum’s director. She noticed it was a fine reconstruction of footwear designed for a 1-year-old child that starts making his or her first steps. Furthermore, the examples of other types of footwear, both summer and winter shoes, were found on this site.

The shoes of Vucedol

Did you know that the earliest examples of footwear for the left and the right foot were found in Vučedol? It’s another example of excellence of their craftsmanship.

Discover the earliest steps in the History of Fashion

Do you think that this title, “The Prehistoric Fashion”, reminds on something outdated, old, or even retrograde? Don’t forget that this site near Vukovar, where the Vučedol Culture Museum is located, was the centre of the entire Vučedol culture. It was a real Capital City of Europe. The whole haute couture fashion of that time was produced here. Take a look on the gallery and figure out how were the outfits on “pictures” – sketches on ceramic – and how it could look like in practice. Some of these ceramic items were found on another Vučedol site – in Ljubljansko Barje, today’s Slovenia – in this museums they are represented on a multimedia screen, placed here to make you compare the findings with the fashion designer’s imagination.

The entire post series about the Vučedol Culture Museum has been created in partnership with the Museum itself. Opinions are my own, and I only collaborate with great museums, the ones that are really fun 🙂

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