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Druidic Clothing and Dress*

 

The Druidic Revival

The Druidic Revival concept of Druids was of men with long white beards and robes, perhaps wearing larger golden torcs or necklaces known as lunulae, and possessing a golden sickle. This approach is often ridiculed by modern scholars and some Pagans. I'm not so sure that the clothing and adornment concepts are wrong, so much as they are off in terms of style and application to the occasion.

The "Golden" Sickle

The golden sickle was most likely a bronze one and perhaps was worked or plated with gold. Such implements were ornamented and in common use among Bronze and Iron Age Celts. There are two very nicely ornamented bronze sickles shown as line drawings in _A Social History of Ancient Ireland_ on page 273 of Volume 2 by P.W. Joyce. These are called serr or searr (sharr) in Irish, but another name is carrán (which means a reaping hook). Each of these sickles looks as if it would have been suitable for ceremonial use in gathering herbs or field work in cutting wheat and other grains. In _Forbhais Droma Dámhgháire, Seán O'Duinn translates an episode in which the great Druid Mogh Roith had a "... gray curved sword, .. bronze dagger, .. two hard five-forked spears..., the hide of a brown hornless bull to cover whole surface of the chariot..." He uses this hide and "..his speckled bird-mask with its billowing wings.." to ascend clouds of smoke into the Sky to do battle with other Druids among the clouds..

Bull Hides

It would seem that bull hides were the clothing of the day when doing battle. In _A Guide to Irish Roots_ William and Mary Durning, state,

"The druid had four ritual uniforms, each identified a different function. During religious ceremonies and advisory councils, his white robe represented purity. When acting as an observer during a battle, a bull's hide and feathered headdress were worn. In council, at banquets or when reciting the genealogies, the uniform was a coat of six colors. When acting as a judge, a collar of gold was added to the coat."

White Robes

In _A Social History_ Joyce cites the Druids as wearing a white robe based on notes by Tirechan regarding Rechrad, the Druid of Amalgaid, and his eight companions who were wearing white tunics when they attempted to kill St. Patrick. He also cites Pliny; remarking about the white robes and "golden sickles" of the Druids during the mistletoe ceremony.

Speckled and Multi-colored Garments

In _Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish_ Volume III by Eugene O'Curry, there is a translation of a color guide for the classes from the Book of Ballymote that says:

"...the order of the cloths according to their colors...

Mottled to simpletons; blue to women;
Crimson to the kings of every host;
Green and Black to noble laymen;
White to clerics of proper devotion."

Now this book is a 14th century writing, though it contains traditional materials that are probably 9th century or before. The clerics mentioned are surely Christian clerics and not Druids (though I  think that Druids would have worn similar clothing when they held a corresponding rank in Irish society.)

A Speckled White Robe

O'Curry also describes a Druid named Tulchinne. the royal Druid of Teamhair during the reign of Conaire as wearing a speckled white cloak with clasps of gold on his ears (Da Derga's Hostel). In the same work, the swineherds are said to wear green frocks and black kilts. The three judges, Echdruim, Echruid, and Echruathar are described as wearing kilts of mixed colors with silver brooches for their robes. The harpers wore light blue cloaks with gold brooches, gold ear clasps and silver torques. Da Derga is said to have worn a white shirt and a green robe.

In another place O'Curry describes the dress of the three Fili, Sui, Rosui, and Forsui, as being "three speckled cloaks... three shirts with red interweavings of gold... and three brooches of gold.."

Suggested Colors for Each Level
of Ancient Irish Society

Ard Righ (also Kings and Queens)- Seven colors: Purple, white, black, blue, red, green, yellow (these are also the colors of the Royal Stewart Tartan in Scotland.)

Nemed (Druids, Churchmen, Lords, Poets) - Six colors: white, black, blue, red, green, yellow.

Provincial Chiefs - Five colors: black, blue, red, green, yellow.

A Bruiden or Wealthy Landowner (perhaps also the lesser Nemed?) - Four colors: blue, red, green, yellow.

A Warrior (officers as well) - Three colors: red, green, yellow.

A Peasant (rent-paying farmers)- Two colors: green, yellow.

A Slave (and servants) - One color: yellow

 

 

 

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*Information from: http://www.summerlands.com/crossroads/library/druidic_clothing%20_and_dress.htm