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Room 1


The Etymology of the Word "Strumpf" (stocking) - Assumptions on the Origins of the German Words for Pants, Sock, Tights and Stocking

Stockings as they are known today were called "hosae" (singular: hosa) in old Norse, which is practically the German word "hose", which means pants. In Germanic languages, the word "hosa" was first used for foot or calf-wraps, then for leggings or stirrup pants and finally, after the 8th century AD, for legwear or pants. This memory of old Germanic history is today still evident in English. In England, stockings are known as "half-hoses", long stockings as "hose" and the production of stockings as "hosiery".

Also known is a second word for pants, the old Norse work brõk, which is a Germanic word for any type of legwear. From the name brõk (in Gaelic, bracca), the middle-age word bruoch or bruch, in English the word breeches, emerged.

There are two words for legwear in Germanic and German - bruoch is the word for pants (though not exclusively pants, the exclusivity did not occur until its use in middle high German), and hosa or hose, which means stocking (at first this meant leg-wrap, then leggings or stirrup pants, since the 8th century long legwear and later tights).

Thus, an excerpt on the cultural and costume history of legwear - at least from the early history until the later appearance of the stocking as its own piece of clothing in the 16th century - should be oriented on the better documented history of pants.


Enlarged graphics open in a new window.

Calf-wraps and the first Pants



In the early Bronze Age, legwear was probably made from wool cloth, which was wrapped around the ankles and calves in the form of "foot rags" and "leg-wraps". From these leg-wraps, which were also worn around the thigh or hips, shorts or "hip pants" developed in the later Bronze Age. This is also the earliest form of the pants, or brõk, worn and invented by the Germanic people. In the middle ages, these were then called bruoch or bruch (breeches). By the end of the Bronze Age (app. 1000 BC), baggy knee-breeches had emerged, which are comparable to today's riding pants.


Weave design and pattern reconstruction of a pair of German knee-breeches, by Marx-Etzel, Lower Saxony (1000-500 BC).


Reconstruction of how knee-breeches were worn, by Marx-Etzel, Germanic clothing (1000-500 BC).


Breeches from the middle ages, 14th century .



Long pants, on the other hand, were already worn by the Illyrian-Thracian people in the second century BC. Since about 700 BC, pants are known from the horse-back riders of the Scythian, Sarmatian and Dacian people.


Depiction of a Scythian in long pants, 2nd half of 4th century BC.


Depiction of a Scythian in long pants, 2nd half of 4th century BC;



Long pants probably came to Asia Minor with the Persians, as can be seen in Greek vase paintings from the 6th century BC, which depict the Lydian-Phrygian traditional wear of the Trojans and other Asia Minor tribes.

Pants spread out from Persia through the Caucasus into the whole of Europe to Gaul.


Pre-Christ depiction of Persians wearing long pants and probably leather stockings.


Legwear from the Trojan era - early predecessors of tights, depiction on an antique vase, probably 6th century BC.



Pants spread out from Persia through the Caucasus into the whole of Europe to Gaul.

Pants are known in the Celtic culture since the 6th century BC. Celts seem to have adopted pants, a practical and functional piece of clothing, from the Germanic people. Long pants, also called brõk, replaced the knee-breeches which were worn until that time and became the most popular legwear until the 8th century AD. After pants were adopted in approximately 700 BC, knee-breeches were only worn by Germanic people living on the North and Baltic seacoasts, and survived for centuries as the traditional wear of sailors.


Drawing reconstruction of the Germanic long pants fashion.





The Greeks and Romans, on the other hand, wore robe-like skirts. At first, pants were unknown, and even at the end of the 4th century AD, when pants started becoming popular (beginning with the soldiers of the Roman Legions), they were considered so repulsive that an imperial decree put a fine on wearing them.


Robe-like clothing of the Greeks.


Clothing of the Romans.



to room 2: Foot and Legwear of the Stone and Bronze Ages