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« on: July 16, 2013, 08:16:55 AM »

I wasn't really sure where to put this, so feel free to move it.

When looking at Icons and various other images, I often notice that the monastic habit, that monks wear today is a bit different from the habit, monks wore some centuries ago.

For example, on many icons, monastic saints are often depicted wearing a white or brown cassock with a black mantle.



While, today, monks are most often dressed all in black.



I have also noticed that, while monks today wear the epanokamelavkion on the kalimavkion (the klobuk)...



earlier, they just seemed to wear the veil, like old believers do today.



My question is: When did this change occur?


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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 08:53:57 AM »

Where black paint for clothes became easily accessible?
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 08:59:33 AM »

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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 10:43:18 AM »

I don't have any answers, but the other day I wanted to start a thread on this topic, so thanks for doing it.  The monastic habit of today versus that in the icons is quite different, and not just based on colour I think. 
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 12:13:46 PM »

earlier, they just seemed to wear the veil, like old believers do today.

I noticed at many of the monasteries I visited in Georgia that the monks only wore the veil. I suppose the fact that the Old Believers continue to just wear the veil means that was commonplace at least until the 17th century. I would assume the wearing of the chimney hat under the veil is something we can attribute to the Ottomans. As our icons of certain Egyptian saints show, the current Coptic and Syriac practice of wearing a hood rather than a veil is also a very ancient one.

As for colour, yellow cassocks are quite often worn by Ethiopian monks. Beyond that, all the OO traditions also seem to favour black for monastics. There are very early accounts of pagan writers who describe hoards of black clad monks descending upon the cities like wild elephants.
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 12:56:03 PM »

There's a painting of Bardas with, I assume, Emperor Michael III, that shows Bardas, as Caesar, in a black robe, and cylindrical hat, quite similar to modern monks. Not sure why this is.

You can find some images of monks in the Madrid Skylitzes Chronicle from the 12th Century:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Madrid_Skylitzes

Constantine the Paphlagonian's forced tonsure on Samonas' orders:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Constantine_the_Paphlagonian_is_tonsured_at_Samonas%27_orders.jpg

Here, a monk is showing Cretan Saracens where to build Chandax:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_monk_shows_the_Cretan_Saracens_where_to_build_Chandax.jpg

Empress Zoe has her sister Theodora tonsured a nun:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Empress_Zoe_tonsures_her_sister_Theodora.jpg

Appointment of Patriarch Ignatios, with monks shown in the image:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IgnatiosWithMonks.jpg

Patriarch & Saint Photios with the monk Sandabarenos:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PatriarchPhotiosMonkSandabarenos.jpg

Persecution of monks:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Persecution_of_monks_from_the_Chronicle_of_John_Skylitzes.jpg

Forced tonsure (after the blinding) of Presian II of Bulgaria:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tonsure_of_Prousianos.jpg

From these images, we see monks in dark brown, no headwear, with lighter undergarments. However, there are also other images here showing monks in various colors of clothing. I don't know anything about monasticism at this time, maybe this is a difference between "urban monasticism" and "rural monasticism", where monks within Constantinople would dress in various colors, and monks in more remote monasteries would dress in simple, unified colors (like brown). I don't know, as I don't know anything about monasticism in this time.

_________________________________

It should also be noted, that during this time, from paintings of the time, or shortly after, the Bishops were still clothed as they were during Justinian's time and, as of yet, hadn't donned hats. However, I have seen images from the West that depict Western Bishops, like the Pope, with mitres around the 12th Century. Again, I'm not sure why this change occurred there.

My point being, I would personally assume, that how we see clergy depicted in the 12th Century, could possibly be how they were, at least for a few centuries before then, considering how little the Bishop's attire changed from Justinian to the schism.

_________________________________

We can also check out the Menologion of Basil II from the 11th Century:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Menologion_of_Basil_II

Not many depictions of monks here, but interesting nonetheless, the Constantine Manasses Chronicle from the 14th Century:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Constantine_Manasses_Chronicle

Martyrdom of St. Maximus the Confessor from the same:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:44-manasses-chronicle.jpg

I can't help but be amazed at how something that's so a part of everyday life like the internet has allowed us such an easy vision into the past with people uploading images from rare documents.
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 01:13:54 PM »

Where black paint for clothes became easily accessible?

This is an interesting point.  In order for cloth to be black, it has to be dyed, if I'm not mistaken.  Despite the symbolism of black, that could be considered an unnecessary luxury.  Perhaps earlier monks simply wore clothing made of plain, undyed cloth.  If this is true, when did the symbolism of black outweigh the "expense" of dyeing cloth?     
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 01:18:23 PM »

Where black paint for clothes became easily accessible?

This is an interesting point.  In order for cloth to be black, it has to be dyed, if I'm not mistaken.  Despite the symbolism of black, that could be considered an unnecessary luxury.  Perhaps earlier monks simply wore clothing made of plain, undyed cloth.  If this is true, when did the symbolism of black outweigh the "expense" of dyeing cloth?    

From the above manuscript(s), it seems that whenever the switch did occur, it was probably after the Great Schism, and possibly after the Fall of Constantinople.
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 01:28:30 PM »

More from illuminated manuscripts.

Monastic Saints from the Menologion of Basil II (10th/11th Century):

St. Auxentius of Bithynia:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Auxentius,_monk_of_Bithynia_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpeg

St. Isidore of Pelusium:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isidore_of_Pelusium_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

St. Martinian of Caesaria in Palestine:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martinian,_monk_of_Caesaria_in_Palestine_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpeg

Ss. Marana & Kyra of Syria:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marana_and_Kyra,_nuns_of_Syria_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

St. Melania the Younger of Rome:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melania_the_Younger,_nun_of_Rome_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

St. Nicholas the Confessor, Abbot of Studion Monastery:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nicholas_the_Confessor,_Abbot_of_the_Studion_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

St. Domnina of Syria:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Domnina_of_Syria_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpeg

From these images, it seems they are depicted as wearing black cloaks on top of brown robes.
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 01:41:49 PM »

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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 02:11:13 PM »

A Monk from the Lindisfarne Gospels, ca. 700 AD:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christian_Monk_from_Lindisfarne002.jpg

Immediate post-schism/mid-schism, western depictions of their monks:

Depiction of St. Benedict delivering his order to monks, from 1129 AD at St. Giles Monastery in Nimes, France:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Benedict_delivering_his_rule_to_the_monks_of_his_order.jpg

The monk Eames from his Psalter, ca 1150 AD:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:12th-century_painters_-_The_Monk_Eadwine_-_WGA15731.jpg
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2013, 02:24:42 PM »

Focusing on what they wear seems to be vain to the point of ignoring their purpose for joining the monastery.

 It seems that it would be not something they would want to dwell on, and would hope they inspire us not by what they wear..
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2013, 02:39:02 PM »

Focusing on what they wear seems to be vain to the point of ignoring their purpose for joining the monastery.

 It seems that it would be not something they would want to dwell on, and would hope they inspire us not by what they wear..

Its not like he was saying he was against of what monks wear now. Just a curiosity on why things have changed culturally and when.

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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2013, 02:51:30 PM »

Here is something that may be of interest. These are a few icons of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794):





In iconography, he is often depicted wearing an  older style habit with a contemporary klobuk. 

Even this portrait of him, his inner cassock doesn't appear to be black (gray, perhaps slightly brown), though his mantia is:



The same style can be seen in icons of St. Theodore of Sanaxar (d. 1791), St. Paisius' contemporary:



Perhaps these icons can clue in to a transition period in monastic clothing, in Russia at least.
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2013, 03:05:02 PM »

Monks still wear that ample mantle you see in these images but only on more solemn occasions. So that hasn't changed.
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2013, 03:14:56 PM »

Here is something that may be of interest. These are a few icons of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794):

Perhaps these icons can clue in to a transition period in monastic clothing, in Russia at least.

St. Paisius could have introduced the Greek fashion to northern monastics. He lived for some years on Mount Athos. His monastic reforms were based on what he experienced there.
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« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2013, 03:21:12 PM »

His monastic reforms

Never heard of those before. What was changed?
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2013, 03:30:22 PM »

Where black paint for clothes became easily accessible?

This is an interesting point.  In order for cloth to be black, it has to be dyed, if I'm not mistaken.  Despite the symbolism of black, that could be considered an unnecessary luxury.  Perhaps earlier monks simply wore clothing made of plain, undyed cloth.  If this is true, when did the symbolism of black outweigh the "expense" of dyeing cloth?     

No, there is black wool.
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2013, 03:40:43 PM »

The cowl was the original head-coveing for monks East and West and remains part of the habit of Latin monastic and mendicant orders and is the headgear (along with skufia) of the Byzantine monk of the Great Schema.
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« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2013, 03:56:46 PM »

this is how saint anthony the great got his clothes design (angelic advice):
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/5_22.html#1

i don't know what the coptic monk's head covering is called in english though.
we call it 'kolonsowa'.
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« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2013, 05:02:18 PM »

The cowl was the original head-coveing for monks East and West and remains part of the habit of Latin monastic and mendicant orders and is the headgear (along with skufia) of the Byzantine monk of the Great Schema.

But when? It wasn't there at the time of the schism, so it must have come in the last 1,000 years, possibly even the last 500 years.
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« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2013, 05:09:54 PM »

Here is something that may be of interest. These are a few icons of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794):

In iconography, he is often depicted wearing an  older style habit with a contemporary klobuk.  

Even this portrait of him, his inner cassock doesn't appear to be black (gray, perhaps slightly brown), though his mantia is:

The same style can be seen in icons of St. Theodore of Sanaxar (d. 1791), St. Paisius' contemporary:

Perhaps these icons can clue in to a transition period in monastic clothing, in Russia at least.

We need to be careful with posting icons, because sometimes icons are painted much later than the Saint themselves. For example, the Menologion of Basil II (11th Century) is not necessarily a reflection on vestments during Justinian's time, but rather vestments at the time it was composed (11th Century).

Same for icons that show St. Nicholas of Myra wearing elaborate vestments with a mitre on his head. Those icons aren't a reflection of what he wore, but what Bishops wore at the time the icons are painted.

So I'd recommend instead of posting when the Saint lived or died, post when the icons were painted. Chances are, those icons you posted are 18th Century or newer, which for St. Paisius, is fine because it's contemporary and shows us that by the mid-late 1700s, that is how many monastics probably looked.
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« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2013, 05:30:08 PM »

More icons/paintings of monks...

St. Syncletica of Alexandria, from the Menologion of Basil II (11th Century):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Righteous_Syncletica_of_Alexandria_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

St. Abraham Kidunaia, from the Menologion of Basil II (11th Century):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abraham_Kidunaia_(Menologion_of_Basil_II).jpg

Icon of the Divine Ascent, in the 12th Century from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent_Sinai_12th_century.jpg

Icon of the Saints of Sinai, from St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, painted around 13th Century:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Saints_of_Sinai.jpg

Icon of the Prince Theodore of Yaroslavl who was tonsured at the end of his life, painted in the late 15th Century:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yaroslavl_saints.jpg

Icon of St. Simeon the Stylite, painted in the 16th Century:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Simeon_Stylites.jpg

It seems that hoods were worn in the West, and in North Africa by the male monks at least by 1000 AD. However, it wasn't worn by monks in the Byzantine East until around the time of the fall of Constantinople. The cylindrical hat under the hood doesn't seem to have arisen until the last 200-300 years. It also seems that nuns have had hoods with their mantles for at least 1000 years.
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« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2013, 06:37:14 PM »

Here is something that may be of interest. These are a few icons of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794):

In iconography, he is often depicted wearing an  older style habit with a contemporary klobuk.  

Even this portrait of him, his inner cassock doesn't appear to be black (gray, perhaps slightly brown), though his mantia is:

The same style can be seen in icons of St. Theodore of Sanaxar (d. 1791), St. Paisius' contemporary:

Perhaps these icons can clue in to a transition period in monastic clothing, in Russia at least.

We need to be careful with posting icons, because sometimes icons are painted much later than the Saint themselves. For example, the Menologion of Basil II (11th Century) is not necessarily a reflection on vestments during Justinian's time, but rather vestments at the time it was composed (11th Century).

Same for icons that show St. Nicholas of Myra wearing elaborate vestments with a mitre on his head. Those icons aren't a reflection of what he wore, but what Bishops wore at the time the icons are painted.

So I'd recommend instead of posting when the Saint lived or died, post when the icons were painted. Chances are, those icons you posted are 18th Century or newer, which for St. Paisius, is fine because it's contemporary and shows us that by the mid-late 1700s, that is how many monastics probably looked.

Which is why I also included the portrait, which was painted during his lifetime.
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« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2013, 08:28:19 PM »

There's always been historical and geographical variation in monastic dress. Even today.
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« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2013, 01:24:50 PM »

From a manuscript, the "Theological Works of John VI Kantakouzenos", currently at the National Library of France.

Depiction of John Kantakouzenos as Emperor & Monk, dating from the 14th Century (contemporary):
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_der_Schriften_des_Johannes_VI._Cantacuzemos_001.jpg

Another depiction of John Kantakouzenos, this time as Emperor & presiding over a synod, monks shown to the right, interestingly the Bishops are shown also with headgear.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_VI_Kantakouzenos.jpg

It seems, from these pictures, that monks were wearing hoods/headgear prior to the fall of Constantinople, during at least the latter-half of the 14th Century. But from the other pictures I've posted in this discussion, it seems it wasn't present in the 12th Century, so sometime between the 12th and the 14th, monks seem to have adopted a hood/headwear. It also seems, from the images of John VI Kantakouzenos, monks during this time also took to entirely black vesture, not just their mantle. However, that could just be the age of the colors on the parchment, as John VI Kantakouzenos' main tunic appears to be a slightly different color than his mantle.
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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2013, 08:23:06 AM »

the coptic headgear (kolonsowa) is from 300s or 400s AD when saint anthony first started wearing it.
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« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2013, 10:22:23 AM »

Interesting.  I read that the Copts adopted it from the Syrians, and that fairly recently.  If it originates with St Anthony, when did the Copts abandon it only to get it back from us?  Or is there more to this story?  Tongue
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« Reply #28 on: July 19, 2013, 01:39:48 PM »

i think there was a lot of mixing. our churches have been close, as prophesied in isaiah 19:24.

i got my info from
http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/5_22.html#1
but i don't think the coptic synaxarium is 100% accurate.
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« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2013, 08:29:41 PM »

I know that this is a really blurry image, please forgive me, it was taken with my phone on my way out the door. This is a lithograph of St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai, dated from the mid 1800's. The blurry men you see are in fact monks, wearing some sort of white garb underneath mantles, some of which are black, and others with distinct yellow and red striped oriental-looking designs. It even appears that some of the inhabitants (wearing fezzes, probably nearby Arabs, not monks) are laying down on rugs, smoking water pipes. Thought this may be interesting for the topic.
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« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2013, 09:20:13 PM »

The cowl was the original head-coveing for monks East and West and remains part of the habit of Latin monastic and mendicant orders and is the headgear (along with skufia) of the Byzantine monk of the Great Schema.

But when? It wasn't there at the time of the schism, so it must have come in the last 1,000 years, possibly even the last 500 years.

Where are you getting this?  St Benedict's Rule ca 500 AD speaks of the cowl:

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a tunic,
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.

The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.

Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.

Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.

http://www.osb.org/rb/text/rbeaad1.html#55
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« Reply #31 on: July 20, 2013, 01:30:38 AM »

The cowl was the original head-coveing for monks East and West and remains part of the habit of Latin monastic and mendicant orders and is the headgear (along with skufia) of the Byzantine monk of the Great Schema.

But when? It wasn't there at the time of the schism, so it must have come in the last 1,000 years, possibly even the last 500 years.

Where are you getting this?  St Benedict's Rule ca 500 AD speaks of the cowl:

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren

Let clothing be given to the brethren
according to the nature of the place in which they dwell
and its climate;
for in cold regions more will be needed,
and in warm regions less.
This is to be taken into consideration, therefore, by the Abbot.

We believe, however, that in ordinary places
the following dress is sufficient for each monk:
a tunic,
a cowl (thick and woolly for winter, thin or worn for summer),
a scapular for work,
stockings and shoes to cover the feet.

The monks should not complain
about the color or the coarseness of any of these things,
but be content with what can be found
in the district where they live and
can be purchased cheaply.

The Abbot shall see to the size of the garments,
that they be not too short for those who wear them,
but of the proper fit.

Let those who receive new clothes
always give back the old ones at once,
to be put away in the wardrobe for the poor.
For it is sufficient if a monk has two tunics and two cowls,
to allow for night wear and for the washing of these garments;
more than that is superfluity and should be taken away.
Let them return their stockings also and anything else that is old
when they receive new ones.

Those who are sent on a journey
shall receive drawers from the wardrobe,
which they shall wash and restore on their return.
And let their cowls and tunics be somewhat better
than what they usually wear.
These they shall receive from the wardrobe
when they set out on a journey,
and restore when they return.

http://www.osb.org/rb/text/rbeaad1.html#55

You clearly didn't look at the rest of the thread. What was in the West I irrelevant because we are talking Eastern monks, not Western. The Eastern monks didn't wear hoods until well after the schism.

My evidence? The dozens of contemporary works of iconography that depict Eastern monks without hoods until almost the time of the Fall of Constantinople.

Like I said, Eastern monks weren't bound by St Benedict's rule and the Western practices are irrelevant to this discussion.
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« Reply #32 on: July 20, 2013, 09:56:10 PM »

St Jerome and St John Cassian, who both learned monasticism in the East, both make reference to the cowl.
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« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2013, 10:01:14 PM »

They are also mentioned in the letters between monks and Sts. Barsanuphius and John the Prophet. 
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« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2013, 10:05:54 PM »

Interesting.  I read that the Copts adopted it from the Syrians, and that fairly recently. 

I thought it was the other way around.
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« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2013, 10:29:42 PM »

St Jerome and St John Cassian, who both learned monasticism in the East, both make reference to the cowl.

Again, Western Saints and Western practice. Even if they learned some about monasticism in the East, that doesn't mean anything. We need contemporary sources from the East.

They are also mentioned in the letters between monks and Sts. Barsanuphius and John the Prophet.  

What is the exact quote and context? Both were monks in Palestine. If the Copts/Syrians had hoods/cowls early on, it wouldn't be surprising for Orthodox monks in the Middle East & North Africa to also have them. But I think here we are more speaking about monks throughout the majority lands of Orthodoxy at the time, Anatolia, Greece, the Aegean Islands, Sicily & Southern Italy, Southeast Europe, Eastern Europe & the Caucasus.

If it is true that monastics in Palestine and North Africa wore cowls from early on, it still seems that the rest of the Eastern Orthodox world (with the exception of the West) didn't wear cowls/hoods according to the iconography and other paintings we have. I have already posted links to these images in this discussion.

It should also be noted that we shouldn't refer to popular, pious traditions about when something started. Sometimes such pious traditions tend to make things more ancient than they actually are, especially when discussing liturgical elements and iconography.
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2013, 10:36:35 PM »

Interesting.  I read that the Copts adopted it from the Syrians, and that fairly recently.  If it originates with St Anthony, when did the Copts abandon it only to get it back from us?  Or is there more to this story?  Tongue

The legend is that St. Anthony received it, along with the rest of the monastic garb, from an angel. It later fell into disuse among the Copts, but was preserved by the Syrians. Pope Shenouda restored it very recently.
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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2013, 10:45:36 PM »

The legend is that St. Anthony received it, along with the rest of the monastic garb, from an angel. It later fell into disuse among the Copts, but was preserved by the Syrians. Pope Shenouda restored it very recently.

Ah.  Harmonization: everyone is happy.  Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: July 20, 2013, 11:23:20 PM »

St. Dorotheos of Gaza said that the monastic habit consisted of a short sleeved tunic, a scapular, a leather belt, and a cowl. He is quite late, I understand.  And I've heard the legend about the monastic habit being given to St. Anthony from EO sources.  If I can remember the reference(s) I'll post them. 

And sorry Devin, I'm afraid I'm largely unfamiliar with the monastic traditions of later periods and the orders that existed outside of the desert. 
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« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2013, 11:57:13 PM »

St. Dorotheos of Gaza said that the monastic habit consisted of a short sleeved tunic, a scapular, a leather belt, and a cowl. He is quite late, I understand.  And I've heard the legend about the monastic habit being given to St. Anthony from EO sources.  If I can remember the reference(s) I'll post them.  

And sorry Devin, I'm afraid I'm largely unfamiliar with the monastic traditions of later periods and the orders that existed outside of the desert.  

I can see the cowl being a part of monasticism in the desert and Middle East, it would be practical and something that was probably needed. But from the icons I've seen, it doesn't seem to be that it went much farther than the Holy Land and North Africa (well, and the West) until about the 15th Century, then it seems even those outside the Middle East in Orthodoxy wore cowls. Then again, it wouldn't have been needed, even in some hot areas like Greece, though they can be hot, it's not nearly as bad as the Middle East and North Africa in terms of scorching heat.
The spacious nature of the Empire ran two ways. First of all, due to the similarity in Christianity everywhere at the time, it made it clear that Christianity has been a united entity, and our faith is the unchanged faith. Yet at the same time, we have many local differences in liturgical dress and even worship. It wouldn't have been unthinkable for the Orthodox in the areas farther south to have worn cowls, while the Orthodox in the northern lands wouldn't have. After all, those same Orthodox in the "south" didn't necessarily use the strict rite of the "Great Church" until a few hundred years after Constantine and not until the Byzantine Synthesis really kicked in. You also have the addition that these communities, not 400 years after Constantine, started falling to the Muslims, and contact with other Orthodox would have been reduced further.

Look at the Russians & Greeks in the 17th Century. The Russians suddenly saw that their practices were different than the Greeks in some ways and attempted to reform. Obviously the way they went about the reform wasn't the greatest, but they saw there was a difference, they had been free, the Greeks had been occupied, and both had developed independently. Even today there are differences in practice and even some liturgical teachings (like whether the wine at Presanctified becomes the blood of Christ, Russians say no, Greeks say yes).

It should also be noted, most of our elements, liturgical and even ecclesiastical wear would have started out as practical solutions to a problem, and eventually symbolism and theology would be applied to them.

Example being the Great Entrance, which served to transport the gifts from where they were stored (at the time, it wasn't kept in the Prothesis alongside the altar), we kept the movement and applied theology to it, and still perform it even though the gifts are often now just a few feet from the altar.

Or even incense, which in the days of sacrifice amongst the Jews, would not just symbolize the prayers of the people and offering rising to God, but the masses of incense really was a practical solution to the terrible stench that burning the hair and bodies of animals caused.

Or even icons, which weren't just something aesthetic or spiritual, but also served to help teach the people about the faith.
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« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2013, 03:13:23 PM »

I can see the cowl being a part of monasticism in the desert and Middle East, it would be practical and something that was probably needed. But from the icons I've seen, it doesn't seem to be that it went much farther than the Holy Land and North Africa (well, and the West) until about the 15th Century, then it seems even those outside the Middle East in Orthodoxy wore cowls. Then again, it wouldn't have been needed, even in some hot areas like Greece, though they can be hot, it's not nearly as bad as the Middle East and North Africa in terms of scorching heat.

I don't know if this has been brought up in this thread yet, but what is the relationship of monastic headgear to the tonsure?  The tradition for monks early on, IIRC, was for them to have clean-shaven heads but uncut beards, as a sign of rejection of vanity.  To this day, Syriac and Coptic (I would think) monastics wear the hood to cover their bald heads.  Western monks seem(ed) to have follow(ed) similar traditions.  Whether your climate is hot or cold, if you're going around without hair on your head, some sort of covering would likely be necessary to protect from the elements.     
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« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2013, 03:32:10 PM »

our monks don't shave.
some are bald through age, but i have seen wisps of hair beneath the 'kolonsowa'.
i want to ask them if they leave their hair long like some eastern orthodox monks, but i have always been too shy!
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« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2013, 05:33:26 PM »

I can see the cowl being a part of monasticism in the desert and Middle East, it would be practical and something that was probably needed. But from the icons I've seen, it doesn't seem to be that it went much farther than the Holy Land and North Africa (well, and the West) until about the 15th Century, then it seems even those outside the Middle East in Orthodoxy wore cowls. Then again, it wouldn't have been needed, even in some hot areas like Greece, though they can be hot, it's not nearly as bad as the Middle East and North Africa in terms of scorching heat.

I don't know if this has been brought up in this thread yet, but what is the relationship of monastic headgear to the tonsure?  The tradition for monks early on, IIRC, was for them to have clean-shaven heads but uncut beards, as a sign of rejection of vanity.  To this day, Syriac and Coptic (I would think) monastics wear the hood to cover their bald heads.  Western monks seem(ed) to have follow(ed) similar traditions.  Whether your climate is hot or cold, if you're going around without hair on your head, some sort of covering would likely be necessary to protect from the elements.     

From pictures of Eastern Orthodox monks prior to the 1300s, they were tonsured (hair cut), but they didn't keep the top of their heads bald, but grew their hair normally, in addition to growing beards.
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« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2013, 05:45:49 PM »

our monks don't shave.
some are bald through age, but i have seen wisps of hair beneath the 'kolonsowa'.
i want to ask them if they leave their hair long like some eastern orthodox monks, but i have always been too shy!

By today's standards, the ideal is to never cut hair or beard. If that is too much, and is a hindrance rather than a help, then the hair is cut very short, so that in any case there is minimal care for it
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