King's College London
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Fruits of the earth: plants in the service of mankind

Regaling humankind

This account of a region which now encompasses modern day Afghanistan describes the clothing and uniforms worn by the rulers, gentlemen, tribesmen and shepherds of the time, as well as elucidating their customs and traditions.

An Afghan man of the Eusofzye in traditional dress, holding a spear. The text accompanying the image describes the constituent parts of his dress, including his tunic, handkerchief and trousersAn Afghan man of the Eusofzye tribe in traditional dress, holding a spearIn the opening shown here, the text accompanying the image explains the constituent parts of the Eusofzye man’s dress. Cotton is employed to good effect in the tunic, with the dye of the pomegranate tree adding colour to this; the trousers are also cotton and the longee, ‘a large handkerchief’, is a mixture of blue silk and cotton.

Plants such as cotton provide the basis of the outfit, supplemented by products derived from animals, in this case, leather sandals and silk. This fusion of materials has been utilised by humans throughout history, as the world’s resources are put into service in the creation of attire suitable for the many habitats in which human beings dwell.

This development of clothing and garmentry continues today, with the significant addition of synthetic fibres, which have been developed through widespread and rapid technological advances.

Nylon, acrylic and polyester are all examples of synthetic fibres developed in the 20th century and used widely in clothing, both independently and in conjunction with natural fibres. Durability and the ability to absorb dyes are two properties which make synthetic fibres particularly useful in the clothing industry.

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