levantia title



male dress in Rômania

Governor of the City

A junior courtier

court undress

Aristocratic casual

Noble outer wear

Common male dress

Sunday best


Court informal wear

Byzantine nobleman, Byzantine costume

This ensemble is based closely upon folio 1r of Bodleian Library Ms. Rowe 6, dated to the late twelfth century, but showing features seen from the eleventh century and earlier. It is a typical example of Roman male court dress of the late eleventh to early thirteenth centuries. This is an informal outfit which the Book of Ceremonies says was worn to imperial banquets, not true ceremonial dress. The stance shown here with the hands inside the sleeves and crossed is the the posture of respect adopted in proximity to the Emperor.

The under-tunic is a pale, sand-coloured linen with a low collar band.1 The outer layer of the over-tunic is a monochrome brocade in a typical pattern of scales filled with foliage dyed with natural indigo. The lining is a fine cotton resist printed with rosettes. The extremely long sleeves were a fashion that originated in Persia in antiquity, and became a feature of court dress in Armenia as well as Rômania. The Ottoman Turks inherited the practice and it survived in a vestigial imitation in traditional Anatolian dress into this century. The Book of Ceremonies calls this garment skaramangion.2

Hats only became accepted as court wear around the middle of the eleventh century. This type is also one adopted from Persia, being derived from one type of kalansuwa.

A full explanation of the outfit and its pictorial and literary sources may be found in the author’s book, By the Emperor’s Hand: court regalia and military dress in the Eastern Roman Empire, Frontline Books, Barnsley 2015.

Outfit by Timothy Dawson


1) See See Timothy Dawson, ‘Concerning an unrecognised tunic from eastern Anatolia’, Byzantion, 73/1 (2003), pp. 201-210. Available from this site as a PDF download.
2) See Timothy Dawson, ‘Oriental costumes in the Byzantine Court Reconsidered’, Byzantion 75 (2006), pp. 97—114. Available from this site as a PDF download.