Q:

What did ancient Egyptian priests wear?

A:

Ancient Egyptian priests wore simple clothes of linen, with white papyrus shoes. Other materials, such as wool, were prohibited. Some sects, such as mortuary priests, were permitted to wear other items.

Mortuary, or sem, priests added a leopard skin over their regular garments as part of their attire. The linen clothing priests wore were long, simple robes. These robes had a strap over one shoulder. Priests also shaved all of their body hair, including their head. Other groups, including viziers and a few key officials, also wore the simple linen robe.

Priests were an important group in ancient Egyptian society, and their cleanliness and purity was an essential part of their image. Their shaving habits and clothing requirements were meant to act as a visual representation of these attributes. This purity is the reason that other materials were not permitted. Wool and leather, for example, were not considered pure so were unacceptable options for priests to wear.

In ancient Egyptian society, white linen was one of the most common materials with which to make clothing, though other groups added in colors and wore differently shaped garments than priests. Royal figures, especially, wore many colors, jewels and accessories when in the public eye.


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