The Byzantine Women's Stola

By Indunna

Lady in costume

The stola varied only slightly over the time of the Empire.
In the early years, ladies continued the classical Roman style of tunica, stola and pallia.
The stola was a long garment reaching to the ground and belted at the waist.
A purple stripe (institia) lined the edge of the garment.
The stola of Byzantium is a woman's garment, unchanged from the Roman time period. It consists of a large folded rectangle, woven with a neck slit and sewn closed from wrist to hem. The Stola is worn belted high under the bust.

In the 5th century, the stola was wide and had no separate sleeves.
A sleeved effect was gotten from the excess width of the stola being belted at the waist and bloused over the belt, just as in ancient Rome.

Decorations were placed on the hems, tablions were placed above the knee, and clavii were done over the shoulders. The ornament consisted of clavi, tapestry-woven into the garment.
Colours were varied and have been noted as being lavender, purple, pale green, light, medium and dark blue, pink, deep red, burgundy, gold, brown, black and white.
Trimming was also very lavish. The scheme would be similar to the tunica but goldwork and gems were known to be used in excessive quantity.


As an overgarment women in the early days of the republic wore the ricinium, a simple square cloak, covering the shoulders. But later the ricinium was replaced by the palla.


The Roundel

The Roundel was found on a Fragment of a woollen cloak woven with a large tapestry roundel in undyed and lavender-blue wool.
East Roman period, third-fourth century



Some Surviving Examples of Stolas

Child's sleeveless wool tunic woven with long tapestry bands in linen and multicoloured wool, with a pattern of foliage.
Byzantine period, sixth-seventh century.



Part of a linen tunic, woven with long tapestry bands in linen and brown wool, depicting followers of Dionysos.
Byzantine period, fifth-sixth century.




The Photo examples of Byzantine clothing where obtained from the following website:
The Basics of Byzantine Dress c. 1000 A.D
Website written and maintained by Dawn Vukson - Van Beek


Further information on Roman and Byzantine Clothing was obtained from the following websites:

Double lines
Image link to Gallery
Hodegon Gallery Page
Image link to monastery page
Hodegon Site Map
Image link to links page
Hodegon Home Page

This page was last updated on the 7 Nov 2008

Copyright © Stephen Francis Wyley & Jenny Baker 1999 - 2000

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