Loin Coverings

Mycenaean men living on the mainland of what would become Greece in about 1600 B.C.E. and Minoan men living on the Greek island of Crete around 3000 B.C.E. wore several basic styles of loin coverings and usually left their upper bodies bare. These styles developed over time and were adapted as clothes for laborers or undergarments in later Greek society.

Worn by Mycenaeans and Minoans, the kilt, or schenti, was a thigh-length skirt with a tasseled point in front that hung between the knees. The kilt was held around the waist by a tight belt. Kilts were often made with elaborate designs and are believed to be the costume of only the wealthiest men. Pictures of these Mycenaean and Minoan kilts remain on frescoes, paintings done directly on plaster walls, and pottery from the period. Similar schenti had also been worn by wealthy Egyptians as early as 2700 B.C.E.

Loin skirts called aprons were worn by men of all classes. Men wore either a single or a double apron. A single apron was a rectangle of cloth that covered the man's buttocks and hung to mid thigh. Single aprons were worn with a codpiece, a covering for the man's genitals. A double apron covered both the front and the back of a man from waist to mid thigh. The front of a double apron was

Various Minoans on the Greek island of Crete wearing the loin coverings that helped protect them from the elements. Reproduced by permission of © .
slightly shorter than the back. Both styles of aprons were worn with belts.

Although upper-class men in later Greek society would more often drape cloths over their upper bodies, these early Minoan and Mycenaean costumes survived into later ancient Greek society as what became known as the zoma, or loincloth, a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist like a short skirt. Male and female athletes wore zoma for competitions, warriors wore it under armor, both men and women used zoma as undergarments, and slaves and other laborers wore it alone as a practical garment for work.


Symons, David J. Costume of Ancient Greece. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

[ See also Volume 1, Ancient Egypt: Schenti ]

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