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Monastic And Liturgical Vestments - Coptic Wiki


Many sources show the evolution of the monastic and liturgical vestments, which are attested in Egypt as early as the fourth century. The description of Evagrius, Palladius, and the Saying of the fathers gave the names of some monastic vestments in Lower Egypt. The Middle Egyptian tradition of the period is attested by the life of Antony and the monachorum in aegypto. In the fifth century, the life of Pachomius and the life of Shenoute provide some illusions to the monastic garment in Upper Egypt.

The evolution of the monastic vestment may be witnessed in the homily of Basil of Pemdje on abbot Loginus; the vestment became more simplified, while the panegyric on Apollo shows that there is no change in the tradition of the Middle Egyptian monasticism. From this period survived the first two icons showing monks and bishops, one is the icon of abbot Menas in the Louvre museum and the other is that of Abraham in Berlin Museum. The monastic sites of Bawit and Saqqarah provide us with a large number of wall paintings, wherein monks and bishops are depicted.

From the 10th century survives the body of a monk (Bisada) in the monastery of Qalamun, the monks wear a special turban and robe. From the 12th century to the 14th century, the rite of consecration the monk and that of the patriarch provide the reader with a complete list of the different items. In the 17th century, two Western travellers, Pocock and Wansleben (Vansleb) made description of all the monastic vestments. Pocock also made a drawing of a Coptic priest, which shows clearly that there are minor changes.

In the 18th century, the two masters, the icon-writer Ibrahim the scribe and Hanna the Armenian painted many icons depicted monks such as Shenoute, Pachomius, Macarius, Apollo, and Abib. However, themonastic vestments reflect more Greek influence rather than Coptic tradition. The Coptic Clergy wears a black turban (an evolution of the cuculion), a black tunic and a mantle with large sleeves.

Century Lower Egypt Middle Egypt Upper Egypt Remarks
Fourth-fifth Evagrius (+ 399) and
Cassian (+420)
Cuculion a kind of
mantlet with hood.Lebiton a linen tunic
that is also called
Colobion. It does
not have sleeves
Analobos: put on the
shoulder as cross
The belt.Melotes: a mantle
with a or
skin used
while traveling
Life of Antony(after 356AD):§46 a linen garment§47 (from hair)§91-92 Melotes
Elistory of the
monks in Egypt:(written 394-395):

LebitonCuculion overthe head.Melotes over the
shoulder and
sometimes used
as a bag
  Semi-hermitic system
  Of Palladius (420)
melotes, sack
ApophthegmataPatrumSkema:Lebiton: tunicwithout sleeves

ColobionMelotes (not frequent)
belt (rare)
Century Lower Egypt Middle Egypt Upper Egypt Remarks
fifth     Life of Pachom Cenobetic
      Two one
in linen without
sleeves.MelotesBeltTwo cuculiaA staff and sandals
Seventh-ninth century Basil of Pemdje,
the Virtues of
Saint LonginMantle or anabolos,
dead skin or

melotes, hoodLife of TunicThe skin tunicBelt
Panegyric on ApolloArchmandrite of the
monastery of Isaac
by Stephen of
Heracleo polis
A skin
Life of Samuel of
Kalamun by Isaac
the Presbyter
The skin tunic
  Semi-hermitic system
Seventh-ninth centuryIcon and wall painting Icon of the Abbot
Menas in the
Louvre (seventh
century).Wall painting from
Saqqarah and Bawit,
the Coptic Museum
(three monks).
Seventh-ninth century   The body of saintBesada (monastery
of Saint SamuelKalamun)
12th 14th century Rite of ordination
a monkLebitonCuculionBeltAnd later the Schema
and the mantle
Rite of ordination

a patriarchTunicCuculionThe schema which
is bound over
the shoulder
Century Lower Egypt Middle Egypt Upper Egypt Remarks
  The leather belt over
the kidney
The mantle
12th 16th centuries Beam icon inthe Church of
(XIII century)Wall painting

saint Macarius
(XVI century)
Wall Monastery of SaintAntony (XIII century) Wall of
the monastery
of al-Fakhury
14th and 1 5th
Abu al-Barakat Ibn
Kabar, the lamp
of Darkness
    Only commentary
1 7th and 1 8th
The Western travelers
18th century Icons of Ibrahim
al-Nasikh and
Yuhanna al-Armani
  Icons from Akhmin