Unit 1 Theories And Functions of Clothing PDF

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Adornment Theory of Clothing PDF

The origin of clothing is inferred mainly from archaeological findings, ancient paintings, and figurines.

The actual dating of the origin of clothing keeps changing with new findings by archaeologists and the interpretations provided by anthropologists who study various aspects of human existence in past and present societies.

Anthropological research on human head lice and lice that live in clothes, suggests that clothing may have originated around 170,000 years ago.

Other researchers claim that clothing may have originated around 540,000 years ago. One view is that the origin of clothing may have coincided with the northward migration of modern homo sapiens away from the warm climate of Africa.

Another view is that the invention of clothing may have been necessitated by the loss of body hair by human beings during the process of evolution.

The severe cold of the northern regions would have forced them to cover themselves with objects available in the surroundings.

They also suggest that the earliest forms of clothing may have been made of animal hide and fur, as well as vegetation including bark, leaves, and grass that were draped, wrapped, or tied around the body.

Archaeological findings of dyed and twisted flax fibers found in the prehistoric Dzudzuanacave (34000 BCE)in the Republic of Georgia, and sewing needles made of bone or ivory (30000 BCE)suggest that clothing may have originated quite early in human history In the long history of clothing, there have been important milestones in the development of clothing. These include the following:

1) Fibre and thread: The processes of pressing and comparing fibers together were used to make the first textile called felt. Bark cloth called Tapa or Kapa was a primitive fabric made by beating and matting the soft inner bark of certain trees.

Twisted and dyed flax fibers have been found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia. This was followed by the Nålebinding (needle binding) technique which was a form of single-needle knitting.

In the Palaeolithic Age (30,000 BCE- 10,000 BCE)and the Mesolithic Age (10,000 BCE to 4,000 BCE) thread and cord made of grass, and animal sinews were used to bind or fasten tools and other possessions together for ease of travel in hunter-gatherer society.

2) Sewing: The sewing needle with an eye, made of bone or ivory, is among the earliest clothing-making tools discovered by archaeologists in 1988 from caves in Russia dating back to 30,000 BCE.

These needles were perhaps used to stitch vegetation or pieces of leather together to make clothes that protected human beings from extreme cold.

3) Woven Fabric: Spinning and weaving developed and spread during the Neolithic period (10,000 to 4,500 BCE) with vegetable bast fibers, flax, cotton, silk, and wool.

The earliest finding of woven woolen cloth is dated around 6,500 BC. The oldest cotton fabric was found in the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro which existed around 2,500 BC.

Silk textiles also flourished during the Neolithic Age in China and Japan. The earliest evidence of silk production in China dates from between 5000 BCE and 3000 BCE. Japan started weaving during the theJômon period between 12,000 BCE to 300.

4) The sewing machine: The earliest sewing machine was invented in 1790 by Thomas Saint which used the chain stitch technique.

Subsequent inventions attempted to create better sewing machines.

However, it was Isaac Merritt Singer who won the technology race in 1851 with a patented sewing machine that dramatically changed the way clothing was sewn.

5) Power loom: The mechanized power loom that partially automated textile weaving was one of the most important inventions of the Industrial Revolution.

Edmund Cartwright designed the first power loom in 1784 which he built and patented the next year.

Kenworthy and Bullough developed the semi-automatic power loom called Lancashire Loom in 1842. By 1850 England had over 260,000 power looms in operation.

The Northrop loom was made fifty years later into a fully automatic loom with a self-feeding shuttle mechanism. Power looms ensured that there was no shortage of fabrics for the clothing industry.

6) Fashion Design: Historically, one-of-a-kind clothes were designed and made-to-measure exclusively for royalty and the most fashionable figures at the royal courts by dressmakers and seamstresses.

Rose Bertin was a dressmaker to Marie Antoinette who was the queen of France during the French Revolution and faced criticism for excessive spending on clothes.

However, the history of fashion began with the development of the textile and clothing industry during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The first professional fashion designer was Charles Fredrick Worth, also known as the ‘Father of Couture’ who was an Englishman living in Paris who had a business employing several drapers, tailors, and seamstresses.

His talent was noticed by Empress Eugénieof France whose patronage brought him into the limelight.

This also made Paris the fashion capital that influenced the other fashion centers in other countries.

Modesty Theory of Clothing

The modesty of a woman refers to her dressing or behaving in a way so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, and especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.

As a function of dress, modesty is concerned with the concealing of oneself and the body. Followers of the Modesty theory propose that morality is dependent upon modesty.

In other words, modesty is a way to overcome the feeling of shame associated with exposure to the body and therefore seeks its concealment through clothing.

The attribute of demureness determines how people dress. However, the Modesty theory has been refuted by other theorists with different viewpoints.

Some suggest that modesty arises out of self-consciousness regarding one’s imperfect body and to defend against negative body image.

The Social Norm argues that modesty does not arise from shame but from the need for self-propriety and privacy and that the socio-cultural environment as well as norms of strictness or permissiveness in society influence the codes of decency regarding body covering.

Others opine that modesty is not instinctive but is learned or imposed; the concept depends on variables such as religion, culture, age, place, activity, social status, and personal preferences.

This points to the fact that modesty may have different connotations in different cultures. Questions pertaining to modesty such as how much skin can be revealed or concealed form the focus of studies on media and celebrity culture.

Historically, the concept of modesty has not been stagnant except for consistent norms that are rooted in religious faith.

What is considered modest in one community may not be a necessary co-relate to modesty in others.

Early paintings and statuettes across different civilizations often depict both men and women with bare bodies.

Clothing served an important function in the display of social status where the extent of the covered body could convey social status as free citizens or slaves.

For example during the Roman Empire, marital status was indicated with married women wearing long dresses that completely covered the body.

From a fashion perspective, the Modesty theory has had two distinct expressions.

First, is the socio-cultural, political, and religious norms of clothing in some countries that have also played a role in defining modesty. In some civilisations,

Language English
No. of Pages16
PDF Size0.3 MB

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