There is a great deal of information known about the costume traditions of many of the ancient cultures. The clothing, hairstyles, and decorative customs of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, Japan, and other societies, for example, have all been written about in many books.
Oceania encompasses more than thirty thousand islands in the Pacific Ocean, spanning from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south. To most geographers the lands that make up Oceania include Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, New Zealand, and often Australia and the Malay Archipelago.
The sunny climate of Oceania did not require people to wear bulky clothing for warmth. The inhabitants of the more than thirty thousand islands exposed most, or all, of their bodies.
Little information about the traditional hairstyles of the peoples of Oceania exists. Descriptions from early explorers and early photographs show that most women of Oceania wore their hair long and that men were clean-shaven.
In the warm climate of the thousands of islands that make up Oceania, people wear few clothes. Uncovered, their skin is considered a blank canvas for decoration.
The peoples of Oceania used paint to adorn their bodies for ceremonies and festive occasions. Body paint was more than a way to beautify the body; the designs and colors signified a person's sex, age, social status, and wealth, among other things.
Scarification was one of the many ways the people of Oceania adorned their bodies. Like tattooing, scarification permanently marked the body.
The inhabitants of the Marquesas Islands appeared to be wearing lace outfits when Europeans first set eyes on them in 1595. On closer inspection, the lace outfits turned out to be tattoos.
Descriptions from early explorers and early photographs show that most of the peoples of Oceania went barefoot. No information about the development of traditional footwear in Oceania is known.