Nomads and Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Beyond the borders of the great early empires—the Roman Empire (27 B.C.E.–476 C.E.), the Byzantine Empire (476–1453 C.E.), and early empires in India and China—lived bands of people whose level of civilization lagged well behind that of the powerful empires. Within the borders of empires were farmers, traders, institutions of learning, government, laws, and order; outside the borders of empires, at least according to those within, were "barbarians," crude people who lived without order or law.

Vikings: The Last Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Clothing of Nomads and Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Our first records of the groups we know as nomads and barbarians are provided by Romans from as early as about 100 B.C.E. The people who lived in Gaul, present-day France, and the Celts in Britain had a much less developed culture than the Romans, though they had been settled in Europe from as early as about 700 B.C.E.

Headwear of Nomads and Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

One of the things that most shocked the Romans about the barbarian tribes who attacked the outposts of the Roman Empire in the fourth century C.E. was the wildness of the barbarians' hair.

Body Decorations of Nomads and Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

Our lack of knowledge about the costume traditions of nomads and barbarians is especially severe in the area of body decoration and accessories. While even prehistoric humans left wall paintings and carvings and small statues that indicated that they wore tattoos and painted their bodies, we have no such records from the barbarian tribes that ransacked Europe in the last years of the Roman Empire (27 B.C.E.–476 C.E.).

Footwear of Nomads and Barbarians - Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages

As with their clothing, the foot-wear of nomads and barbarians was made out of the skins of the animals that they hunted and, in some cases, herded. Though we have very little physical evidence about the footwear worn by such peoples as the Gauls, Celts, Huns, and Goths, we do know that their animal hide footwear came in two basic styles.

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