The ancient Roman people along with their costumes also wore accessories. The common types of accessories worn during this period were jewelry, beads, footwear, hair accessories, breast chains and make- up. Roman accessories were very well embellished and also very costly.
Ancient Roman Accessories: Jewelry
The jewelry work of the ancient Romans was different than other contemporary empires. Roman jewelry was designed by a small section of people. However, the jewelry was similar to the Greek and Etruscan. Jewellery designs like the ‘Herakles knot’ or ‘marriage knot’, amulet design, Isis crown were inspired by the Greek and Egyptian designs. With the conquests of the Roman Empire, materials like diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires were used to make jewelry.
Ancient Roman women’s jewelry:
It was believed by the Romans that wearing jewelry would ward off the ‘evil eye’. Jewellery worn in the ancient Roman period was particularly associated with the women. Wealthy Roman women wore jewelry that was made from precious metals like gold and bronze.
The jewelry commonly worn by women in Rome included necklaces, rings, armlets, earrings, pendants, and anklets. Brooch was also a type of jewelry normally worn during the early periods of the Roman Empire rule. It was used to firmly fix pieces of clothing together.
Fibula, like a brooch, was a clothing fastener and was highly decorated. Men also wore jewelry in the form of a finger ring. Some Roman men wore rings with all the fingers, some in only one, while others did not wear them at all. Popular Roman motifs included gold hemisphere and a coiling snake.
Materials used to make ancient Roman jewelry:
Other materials used to make jewelry were beads, pearl, bone, fossilized wood and glass. Glass formed a considerable part of the lives of the ancient Roman people. The Romans also used crude beads which had existed for many years even before the establishment of the ancient Roman Empire.
Apart from the ancient crude beads, the Romans used glass beads and mosaic beads. These beads also made from stones, gems and precious metals like gold. The beads were even available in different shapes ranging from round to square and triangular to cylindrical. These beads were used to decorate necklaces, brooches, bracelets. Beads were also worn as earrings by the ancient Roman women. Another use of beads during this time was to make ornaments to ward off the ‘evil eye’.
Ancient Roman accessories for hairstyles:
In the ancient Roman period importance was given to hairstyling. Though the hairstyles were of a simple nature, there was a difference in the way in which women wore their hair. Accessories such as hairpins, hairnets, wigs, etc. were used by the Roman women. Hairnets were made from gold. Men also wore accessories like wigs. Headgears like the Galerus, the petasus, pileus, and cucullus were commonly worn.
Ancient Roman footwear accessories:
The footwear used during the Roman Empire time was a part of accessories. The type of footwear worn by the Romans was very akin to that used by the Greeks. The type of footwear initially worn by the Romans was called the carbonating. These were basically simple sandals that were secured by a thong. The carbonating was later replaced by calceus. It was a low-cut shoe that had leather sole and thongs.
The thongs were so placed that it would firmly secure the foot and some part of the leg. In the early years, the calceus was black but it was changed to white during the Late Roman Empire period.
Pero and Gallicae were other types of footwear used by the Romans. Women wore Soccus, which was an elaborately ornamented slipper. Sandals were normally worn by people in their houses. There were shoes separately designed for the emperor.
Ancient Roman make-up, cosmetics, and beauty care:
The ancient Roman people drew inspiration of using make- up from the Greeks and Egyptians. People during the ancient Roman period were extremely careful about their looks and beauty. Perfumes also formed a part of Roman accessories. During the ancient Roman period, cosmetics were originally used for rituals.
The commonly used cosmetics in ancient Rome were;
1) Bear’s fat was used as wax base;
2) Chalk and white lead pigment were used to whiten the face,
3) Wine dregs to color the lips,
4) Kohl was the chief material used in the eye make- up. It included antimony and soot. Saffron was used as eyeshadow and aided in improving the odor of the kohl. Soot from the fire along with animal fat was used as black eyeliner. Apart from saffron, green and blue eyeshadows were used.
5) Cheeks and lips were colored by mixing together clay and animal fat,
6) Even sweat from sheep’s wool was used as a cosmetic product.
The Roman people applied various things ranging from swan’s fat to bean meal to soften the wrinkles that appeared on their face. Other problems like freckles and sores were cured by applying the ashes of snails. Things like red ochre rose and poppy petals, red chalk, red lead, cinnabar and Tyrian vermillion were used to obtain the pink colored make- up for the cheeks.
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