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Author Topic: Why are we wearing pants?  (Read 331 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Why are we wearing pants?
« on: April 05, 2016, 04:02:24 PM »
Okay, the title is absurd, but bear with me...  ;)

I've long had this idea of creating a fantasy setting (for a GURPS game, a story or something...) that wouldn't be modelled after the medieval Europe (as many fantasy settings are), but after cultures like ancient Rome, Greece, Babylonia etc. While trying to decipher what separates these cultures from the Middle Age Europe, I've noticed something:

In none of these cultures people were wearing pants.

And now... many these cultures are, more or less, the roots of the modern Western society. European culture has, more or less, grown from the culture of Rome and Greece, with Israel-descended religion. And again, the people of Rome, Greece and Israel were not wearing pants, but pantless robes / tunics / togas. Keeping that in mind, how come we're not wearing these kinds of clothes today?

Any ideas?

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 04:11:47 PM »
Not entirely accurate. Pants came about for one reason and one reason only. Well two, but it's not as strong an intro.

Riding horses. Look at every devoted horse culture and you will see there's nary a kilt to be found. Even the native tribes of North America quickly adopted pants when the horse was reintroduced into the New World.

Romans actually developed pants for their cavalry, and started adopting them as they moved into colder climates like the British Isles. Also before you say Scotland and the kilt keep in mind that the kilt is really an 18th Century invention (I'm pretty sure). Anyway, point being it's more recent than its importance would suggest.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2016, 04:15:51 PM »
Hm. So, is it impossible to ride a horse while wearing a tunic? I'd have thought that the ancient Greeks or Babylonias have had cavalry...

I'm not saying you're wrong - I've some images of Scythians who used horses and, unsurprisingly, were wearing pants. I'm just trying to evaluate the merit of a pantless civilization as a setting :)

BTW. Didn't China or Japan have cavalrymen?

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2016, 04:24:46 PM »
Hm. So, is it impossible to ride a horse while wearing a tunic? I'd have thought that the ancient Greeks or Babylonias have had cavalry...

I'm not saying you're wrong - I've some images of Scythians who used horses and, unsurprisingly, were wearing pants. I'm just trying to evaluate the merit of a pantless civilization as a setting :)

BTW. Didn't China or Japan have cavalrymen?



Look, pants (well the traditional skirt is tied in a way to basically function as loose breeches). Yes, they did have cavalrymen. What you have to understand about ancient cavalry was that it was lame when compared to the stuff in the late Roman-medieval period because of saddle technology. Also keep in mind that Europe did not have the stirrup until ~1066.

No of course you don't need to have pants to ride a horse, but you do need them if you want to ride them fast and or far. Ancient people would do light scouting and ancient "heavy cavalry" would mount up literally right before the battle. Think about how ancient people got around. They would ride chariots. Another good question to ask is why did the chariot come before simply mounting up?

I imagine that several people worked out that after popping saddle blisters the size of grapefruits that they needed some kind of way of mitigating the discomfort.

Not trying to be condescending. It's a valid question, I'm just trying to provide context (in bits and pieces).

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2016, 04:34:28 PM »
It's my understand the chariot was used for battle and could hold as many as four people in which case the driver would cart the others into the fight while they used the weapons - i.e., arrows and spears - against the enemy.  Using a chariot you had speed, maneuverability and manpower options the foot soldier lacked.

Now, when you think of riding horses thing of women who rode side saddle to preserve their modesty.  They sat on their petticoats and skirts and didn't need pants.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2016, 04:53:04 PM »
It's my understand the chariot was used for battle and could hold as many as four people in which case the driver would cart the others into the fight while they used the weapons - i.e., arrows and spears - against the enemy.  Using a chariot you had speed, maneuverability and manpower options the foot soldier lacked.

Now, when you think of riding horses thing of women who rode side saddle to preserve their modesty.  They sat on their petticoats and skirts and didn't need pants.
Riding side-saddle is not exactly what one would call effective.

There were battle chariots too, but they were also used as a form of conveyance. The saddle took a long, long time to develop in the West. (It should bear mentioning that China most likely had all of this first).

Offline Far eyes

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2016, 04:54:34 PM »
Now, when you think of riding horses thing of women who rode side saddle to preserve their modesty.  They sat on their petticoats and skirts and didn't need pants.

Non modern side saddles are..  not very practical constructions. One of the biggest advancements in cavaliery was stirrups for obvius reasons of being able to actually use your hands and guide the horse. 

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2016, 04:57:35 PM »
Non modern side saddles are..  not very practical constructions. One of the biggest advancements in cavaliery was stirrups for obvius reasons of being able to actually use your hands and guide the horse.
To elaborate on this point:

Using a couched spear without stirrups hits with about 40lbs per square inch.
Using the same spear with stirrups hits with thousands of pounds per square inch.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2016, 06:01:25 PM »
Look, pants (well the traditional skirt is tied in a way to basically function as loose breeches). Yes, they did have cavalrymen. What you have to understand about ancient cavalry was that it was lame when compared to the stuff in the late Roman-medieval period because of saddle technology. Also keep in mind that Europe did not have the stirrup until ~1066.

Okay, you'll have to educate me a bit more here. Was riding with a saddle and / or stirrups really that superior to riding without them? Also, who developed the saddle and the stirrups first - and when? Would it be feasible for an antiquity-style civilization to have them?

Quote
No of course you don't need to have pants to ride a horse, but you do need them if you want to ride them fast and or far. Ancient people would do light scouting and ancient "heavy cavalry" would mount up literally right before the battle.

Hm. Let's say we have a female warrior that looks like this:

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix4/marada_she-wolf.htm

Would she be able to ride a horse effectively? With or without a saddle?

And now, let's move away from the issue of horse-riding for a moment. Let's say that wearing pants is necessary for horse-riding... but does it mean that pants had to become a general standard in fashion? I mean, the clothes modern soldiers wear aren't really that similar to what we wear in everyday life. So... could there by a civilization with pants-wearing cavalrymen and toga-wearing civilians?

Here's a question for women: in your experience as skirt / dress users, what would be the feasible climate to wear only tunics? I've read that Romans got pants from the north-dwelling people, like Celts or Germans. But would it be impossible to wear only tunics when dwelling in, say, Great Britain? Would that be too cold?

Offline Far eyes

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2016, 06:36:27 PM »
A lot of what soldiers ware has to do with practicality...  or function, because some of the time the person designing it is a moronic lizard person from the planet Zenu

An interesting little tidbit
Quote
The oldest known trousers are found at the Yanghai cemetery in Turpan, Xinjiang, China, dated to the period between the 13th and the 10th century BC. Made of wool, the trousers had straight legs and wide crotches, and were likely made for horseback riding

On saddles, and be advised this is from something i had read into years ago so i might be spotty on this. But in essence stirrups are huge, its army crushing huge. Without stirups you essentially do not have very effective mounted cavaliery, saddles also improved by a lot early saddles were quiet bad. Early horse in warfare was really more often used to get people there then to actually fight on also in a lot of cases.

As for who invented it, if i remember correctly its one of those lots of places did at roughly around the same time   

Quote
The stirrup, which gives greater stability to a rider, has been described as one of the most significant inventions in the history of warfare, prior to gunpowder. As a tool allowing expanded use of horses in warfare, the stirrup is often called the third revolutionary step in equipment, after the chariot and the saddle. The basic tactics of mounted warfare were significantly altered by the stirrup. A rider supported by stirrups was less likely to fall off while fighting, and could deliver a blow with a weapon that more fully employed the weight and momentum of horse and rider. Among other advantages, stirrups provided greater balance and support to the rider, which allowed the knight to use a sword more efficiently without falling, especially against infantry adversaries. Contrary to common modern belief, however, it has been asserted that stirrups actually did not enable the horseman to use a lance more effectively (cataphracts had used lances since antiquity), though the cantled saddle did.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 06:37:39 PM by Far eyes »

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Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2016, 06:47:00 PM »
Horses without saddles are uncomfortable.  Saddles without pants are uncomfortable.  Just as men would prefer to have some protection for their nether regions so would women.  The split skirt was designed for riding astride by women and is quite similar to the flowing trousers men in some countries wore.  The blankets which were used to protect the horse from the saddle worked well when also used in place of a saddle.  I've ridden without a saddle but with a blanket or pad because it can hurt like hell to have the backbone of a horse get intimate with you.

Offline TotesRider

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2016, 11:43:01 PM »
Because i look fly as fuck in cargo pants.

Offline The Dark Raven

Re: Why are we wearing pants?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2016, 01:49:27 PM »
Not entirely accurate. Pants came about for one reason and one reason only. Well two, but it's not as strong an intro.

Riding horses. Look at every devoted horse culture and you will see there's nary a kilt to be found. Even the native tribes of North America quickly adopted pants when the horse was reintroduced into the New World.

Romans actually developed pants for their cavalry, and started adopting them as they moved into colder climates like the British Isles. Also before you say Scotland and the kilt keep in mind that the kilt is really an 18th Century invention (I'm pretty sure). Anyway, point being it's more recent than its importance would suggest.

The modern as-we-know-it kilt was an 18th c invention (post 1745, and actually closer to the Victorian age), but the great kilt and airesaid (sp?) go back into the middle ages and looked quite a bit different.  They were also used in both the Scots-land and Ireland in different variants.  Lengths of wool were very good for keeping warm and keeping the damp out.  Still are. ;)