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Title: On the necessity of the dress
Subtitle: Should a hermit wear clothes?
Author(s): INNEMÉE, Karel
Journal: Khil'a
Volume: 1    Date: 2005   
Pages: 69-78
DOI: 10.2143/KH.1.0.629997

Abstract :
The present article studies the clothing, or lack of it, of some Coptic monks and hermits in early Christian and medieval Egypt. Some early texts stress the importance of nudity, as an expression or symbol of monastic virtue, a sign of poverty, penitence or innocence. Most of the reasons for which people would wear clothes, namely protection, comfort, adornment and expression of status, seemed irrelevant to the Coptic monks and hermits. Going around naked in company was also a form of self-humiliation. Being naked was likewise regarded as showing childlike innocence, the return to a state before any sins were committed. This aspect is clearly linked to the ritual of baptism, in which the new convert would undress and be ritually cleaned of sins. There is also the nudity of the athlete; the naked monk or hermit was likewise regarded as the warrior against the powers of evil.

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