Thirteenth Century Andalusian Costume



One excellent source for costume information for 13th Century Spain and Al-Andalus is the The Book of Chess, Dice, and Board Games (El Libro de Juegos: los libros de ajedrex, dados e tablas) by Alfonso X El Sabio, dated 1283. It shows a variety of people of different genders, ages, classes, and religions playing various games. I've selected those showing Arabic and Aldalusian clothing.


Click on each image to see it around full size

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Women's Garments


Many of the women's garments are supported by later pictures from al-Andalus and the Maghrib.

Three Andalusian Women Three women are shown, two in tunics and one in a sheer chemise and "underpants". Two have henna'ed fingers and palms.

Two of the women wear opaque tunics, one light blue, one pink. The tunics have round necklines and long sleeves with deep cuffs, while the hems are so long the garments pool over their feet. They appear to be made of a very supple fabric and are worn unbelted. Narrow black shoes or slippers with pointed toes appear to be poking beyond their hems. One woman wears a long sheer veil down to her waist that leaves her face unencumbered, held in place by a patterned filet, a short necklace of multicolored beads, and fully henna'ed hands. The other woman plays an oud. Her pink tunic is much like the light blue one. On her head is a dark woven cloth with stripes near its fringed ends, also held in place by a striped filet. Her hands appear to be un-henna'ed and she doesn't seem to be wearing jewelry.

The third woman wears a very sheer chemise. It has some kind of decoration on each shoulder (partially rubbed off on her right) and possibly some zig-zag decoration around the round neckline which is fastened by a thin tie at the center front. Her ankle-length sheer pants have a visible multi-colored drawstring dangling between her knees. On her head she wears a patterned kerchief or coif. She has a heavy gold bracelet on each wrist, and a necklace that appears to be made of gold balls. She also has large circular earrings.



Two Veiled and Turbaned Muslim Women Two women, possibly from very devout Berber families or from east of the Maghrib, wear long opaque tunics devoid of ornamentation, white turbans, multi-layered facial veils, and sheer shoulder scarves with decorative bands and fringes at their ends. They wear delicate slippers on their feet.



Two Women, One Muslim, One ChristianHere is a clear constrast between the costumes of Spanish Christian and Muslim Andalusian women.

The Christian Spanish woman wears a long-sleeved tight dress (cotehardie?) or tunic under what appears to be a pale blue sideless surcote trimmed with black and white striped edging. The red dress is decorated with gold bands around cuffs, up the length of the arms, and across the shoulders (there appears to be a band across the chest, too--there may be more but that's all that can be seen). A panel of black and white under her left arm may be lacing. She has a gold filet around her head while her long curly hair cascades down her back. Her overdress pools over her feet so that they cannot be seen.

The Andalusian wears a loose tunic with deep cuffs. While a line over her right shoulder seems to show a raglan seam, it probably just represents a fold in the fabric. There is no trim on the outside of the tunic, however, her right cuff appears to be folded back and seems to be lined with patterned fabric. The tunic is short enough that her "underpants" can be clearly seen gathered on her lower legs. Their drawstrings can be seen dangling between her legs. She, too, wears a filet around her head, which appears to be a woven band of some sort, with a bow over her right ear. She has a heavy gold bracelet on each wrist and a gold necklace. Her feet are bare. Her fingers, and likely her palms, are henna'ed.


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Men's Garments

Three Andalusian Men Three bearded Andalusian men wear long heavy tunics with long sleeves. One tunic is pink, one medium-dark green, one white. These colors may represent actual reality, or they may just have been chosen by the artist because he liked the colors. None has any trim and all are unbelted. The man on the left wears a headcloth which may be held in place by a filet or a self-wrap. The cloth extends down the sides of his head, under his chin and around his shoulders, much the way the keffiyeh can be worn today in Arabia and the Middle East. The man in the middle has removed his headcovering, which sits on the floor at his feet. Both he and the man on the right have pointed hats with turbans wrapped around them. The two men on the left wear little slippers similar to those of the women in the second picture, while the man on the right is barefoot.



Two Turbaned Muslim Men Two fully bearded men are dressed as Arabs in long sleeved long heavy tunics bare of any decoration which appear to be unbelted. They wear complexly wrapped turbans of narrow striped cloth, with one loose end dangling by one ear and also appear to be wearing black shoes or slippers. The one on the right wears a fairly long wrap around his shoulders and legs which is fastened in some way at his throat.



Two Men, One Muslim, One Jewish Another constrast, in this case with only slight differences, between costumes of two different religions. Both men are fully bearded and both wear long, round-necked, loose tunics with long, moderately wide sleeved. The Muslim's may be belted. The Muslim also wears a shoulder wrap of some sort. The Jewish man has a long opaque veil over his head which appears to extend down at least to his knees. It is unclear whether they are wearing undertunics, as their hemlines appear to be layered.



Two Men, One Muslim, One Christian Another cultural constrast. The two men are seated in a typical Muslim tent -- this style appears also in Persian art from both earlier and later -- which is decorated with a band of writing around the top. The Muslim is in a long loose tunic with wide sleeves. It looks as if he wears an under-tunic as well--look at his extended arm-- I can't tell if it's sheer with wide sleeves or has tight sleeves. He wears a headwrap and a cloth that covers the sides of his head, his neck and his shoulders. His long straight sword is suspended from a red belt or cord that goes over his right shoulder and under his left. He is wearing socks or undyed boots on his feet.

The Christian man is bareheaded and either clean-shaven or with a small trimmed beard (hard to see in this fuzzy reproduction). He wears a light, possibly sheer, tunic or cotehardie, and over this what appears to be a vermillion sideless surcote lined with fabric of a different color - in other pictures, not reproduced here, it appears likely that the skirt of this seeming sideless surcote is long and loose in the rear and used as a cloak. On his feet are red hose or boots.


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An alternate view of these pictures comparing male and female garments...

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Graphics courtesy of Alphonso X Book of Games website. Many thanks.



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