1st Edition

Clothes and Monasticism in Ancient Christian Egypt A New Perspective on Religious Garments

By Ingvild Sælid Gilhus Copyright 2021
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is an exploration of the ideals and values of the ascetic and monastic life, as expressed through clothes. Clothes are often seen as an extension of us as humans, a determinant of who we are and how we experience and interact with the world. In this way, they can play a significant role in the embodied and material aspects of religious practice.

    The focus of this book is on clothing and garments among ancient monastics and ascetics in Egypt, but with a broader outlook to the general meaning and function of clothes in religion. The garments of the Egyptian ascetics and monastics are important because they belong to a period of transition in the history of Christianity and very much represent this way of living. This study combines a cognitive perspective on clothes with an attempt to grasp the embodied experiences of being clothed, as well as viewing clothes as potential actors. Using sources such as travelogues, biographies, letters, contracts, images, and garments from monastic burials, the role of clothes is brought into conversation with material religion more generally.

    This unique study builds links between ancient and contemporary uses of religious clothing. It will, therefore, be of interest to any scholar of religious studies, religious history, religion in antiquity, and material religion.

    1 Introduction

    2 Heroes in the Wilderness: The Mythical Background

    3 Clothes and the Construction of the Monastic World

    4 Interacting with the Habit

    5 Molding Monastic Minds and Memories

    6 The Economy of Salvation and the Economy of this World

    7 Prelapsarian Nakedness and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

    8 Dressing Death, Clothing Eternity

    9 Epilogue



    Ingvild Sælid Gilhus is Professor of the Study of Religion, University of Bergen, Norway. She works in the areas of religion in late antiquity and New Age religion. Her publications include Laughing Gods, Weeping Virgins (Routledge 1997); Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas (Routledge 2006), Evolution, Cognition, and the History of Religion: A New Synthesis (edited with Anders K. Petersen, Luther H. Martin, Jeppe S. Jensen, and Jesper Sørensen, 2019) and The Archangel Michael in Africa: History, Cult, and Persona (edited with Alexandros Tsakos and Marta Camilla Wright, 2019).