Himantes

I have stated before that I did not know what to call the accessory that ties back the sleeves of a chiton in my original discussion about girdles and continued to use the term shoulder harness in my update after visiting Greece.  This morning, I was working through checking the Greek description of a plaque and came across what I believe is the Greek word for this accessory. (At minimum, it is the word that Greek museums may use modernly to describe this accessory, which is still better than guessing). The word is ιμάντες which translates to “straps” in the plaque below. Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 12.43.59 PM.png

According to the Greek Word Study Tool by the Perseus Digital Library, ἱμάς is the singular and ἱμάντες is the plural for “leathern strap.” They would be transliterated into English as himas and himantes, much as ἱμάτιον is transliterated into himation. This word does not appear to be unique to the strap that is worn over the shoulders, but instead applies to many different leather straps, such as sandal straps, chin strap, the leather straps boxers used to bind their hands, a dog leash, and chariot reigns. It’s possible that there is a more specific word, but it’s also possible that this is the only word for this item. That would seem more likely given that the Greeks did not distinguish between stick pins and safety pins in their language, calling both περόνη. Additionally, Homer refers to Aphrodite’s “magic girdle” by the word himanta. This is made particularly confusing by the fact that the English translation here calls her girdle by the word zone which is a Greek word for belt, but the original Greek does not have ζώνη, but rather has ἱμάντα.

So, to sum up: himas means a leather strap, himantes means leather straps, and the figure 8 leather strap that goes around your arms to hold back your chiton sleeves is likely referred to as himantes, and leather is probably the most appropriate material for these straps. That then causes us to ask the question “what material should I use to make my belt?” In this post, I have covered a variety of belts including wide belts, metal belts, woven belts, and belts that were probably himantes as well. I think it might be ok to mix and match shoulder himantes and various kinds of zone.

 

 

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