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by Archaeology Newsroom

Clothing from the Viewpoint of the Byzantine Church: The Canon Law

Although there exists, at least in principle, the scriptural disapproval of the excessive care for clothing (Mat. 6:28-31. Luke 12:22-28; Mat. 11:8, Luke 7:25: James 2:2-4). strongly reflected on the doctrine of the Church Fathers as well, this disapproval is mirrored in the Canon Law of the Eastern Church with regard to the clergy members only, to whom the pursuit of luxurious attire is forbidden (Canon 27 of the Council in Trullo of 692 and Canon 16 of the Vllth Ecumenical Council of Nicaea of 787). Such prohibitions does not exist for laymen. On the contrary, already the Synod of Gangrae, of about 340, in its broader effort to eradicate extremities of ascetic spirit, barred the clothing in rags for piety reasons and the ex¬pression of contempt to those dressed luxuriously (Canon 12), as well as the dressing of women in a man’s attire for austerity reasons (Canon 13). Special Canons (62 and 71 of the Council of Trullo) also prohibited ths masquerade or the exchanging of suits between men and women, in the framework of feasts, which had been considered as pagan survivals. It is often argued that these regulations prohibited women from wearing clothes appropriate to men. In reality, however, such a general prohibition, corresponding to that contained in the Old Testament Law (Deuter. 22:5], was never introduced expressly in the Eastern Church Law.