Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.

 

In the description of Byzantine wardrobe items there is one item, the explanation of the essence of which will undoubtedly be important for the reenactment community. One part — to envy, the other-to sew and use.

This is stethokarakala (στηϴοκαράκαλα).

There is a mention of it in the English edition of the”Book of Ceremonies” by Constantine VII.

Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.
The word caracala (καρακάλιον) came to Greek from Roman Latin (caracalla). Emperor Semtimius Bassianus, nicknamed Caracalla (Septimius Bassianus Caracalla) or Caracallus (Caracallus) received this nickname from the Gallic clothing introduced by the emperor — a long robe/caftan with a hood.

Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.

Caracalla Major and Minor are mentioned in the Edict of Diocletian. It is believed that the original caracalla was a tailored, short, fitted garment with narrow sleeves, often with a hood. The emperor dressed his soldiers in such a uniform, but soon extended it to the ankles.

Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert in “Tunics Worn in Egypt in Roman and Byzantine Times: The Greek Vocabulary” defines such a garment as the sticharokarakallion (στιχαροκαρακάλλιον) – a hybrid of the sticharion and the caracallion. The sources given to her echo each other describing the clothing with a hood.

Spanish researcher Laura Rodríguez Peinado in the article “Diseños y motivos decorativos en la indumentaria del primer milenio” describes the Egyptian find of a hooded shirt and calls it karakalion.

Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.

The first part of the word stetokarakala is Greek and has been known to us since childhood, especially to those who have been ill a lot. Stethoscope, stethophone, stethometer – all these devices related to the study and measurement of the breast. Stetho (στηϴο) = ‘chest‘.

After when I, being a philologist, decomposed this concept into components, that was joyful and timely to read the confirmation of my theory in the article by Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert! She writes that for many centuries the word caracalla has not changed, also meaning a garment with a hood, but the look of clothing itself has mutated, as we are probably told by the prefix steto- / stefo – (στηϴο). From which we conclude that the stetokarakala is a hood that reaches the chest or covers the chest. Chest hood, or simply hood with a pelerine / cape.

Carving. Byzantum, IX-X AD.
Carving. Byzantum, IX-X AD.

Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.
Evangelistary (Athos, Dionisiou 587), XI AD.

Stethokarakala. A headwear with an interesting backstory.
Psalter. Byzantium, 1059 AD.

My pride was, however, a little startled by the fact that it turned out that Timothy Dawson had described this whole theory in his book “By the Emperor’s Hand” long ago. I realized this later, but I reassure myself by that I am going down the way of Popov and Marconi, and this is not the worst way in the world, ha-ha!

THE END

Oleg “Helgi” Kozlenkov, February 2020.