Dressing like the Great King: Amerindian Perspectives on Persian Fashion in Classical Athens

Polis 38 (1):9-20 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper examines the phenomenon of individual Athenians adopting elements of Persian clothing, making use of exotic items such as gold and silver drinking vessels, and the like, by comparison to what I argue is a similar sort of contact and exchange involving the European fabric trade and evolving standards of dress and fashion in the Early Modern Atlantic. The ancient literary and archaeological sources discussed document the reaction of a relatively insignificant, marginal people to the dress practices of a more powerful and arguably far more sophisticated imperial power. I suggest that an appreciation of the character and intentions of the much better documented encounter between the English court and Amerindian ambassadors who visited it in the early 18th century provides a potentially useful corrective to the indigenous perspective of our Athenian sources.

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