Paenula – an ancient Roman hooded cloak

Paenula – an ancient Roman hooded cloak

Ткацкая мастерская OldCraft · 25 February 2022 at 14:47

Historical note

This piece of outfit was extremely functional and became an important part of a Romain legionary’s equipment (pic. 1). It was a broad cloak with a hood made of thick coarse wool.

Ancient Roman paenulas could have been sewn at the middle or could have had button fasteneres made of bone, wood or bronze. The paenulas that were sewn at the middle had to be put on over the head. The hood is worth a special mention, it is supposed that it could have covered the head together with the legionary’s helmet.

Pic. 1 Bas-relief depicting legionaries wearing paenulas, II century CE (found in a settlement not far from Hadrian’s wall)

Cicero, while claiming that Milo could not have attacked Clodius, mentioned Milo’s clothes as an example: he was wearing a paenula that held him “like in the nets” (lat. “paenula iretitus”), and Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus mentioned some orators who were “squeezed, and as if locked in a paenula”. The relief from Isernia depicts a wanderer with a mule in the lead, paying off with the hostess of the inn. He is wearing a hooded paenula; he stuck his right hand out from under the cloak, parting both halves of it (pic. 2).

Pic. 2 Funerary relief depicting Innkeeper and Customer, from Iserina, Italy)

The materials for paenula making were coarse wool and broadcloth of dark (not easily soiled) tones. The length of this clothing item was not below the knees. Paenula was worn both by the military, mostly legionaries and auxiliaries (soldiers of an auxiliary unit of the ancient Roman army), and by ordinary citizens, including women.

Examples of our work

At the pictures above you can see a paenula made of semi-coarse wool produced by us. The neck hole of this model is sewn at the center, the seam length is about 10 cm. This type of paenula has to be put on over the head and is a base model of our catalog.

Another version of the neck hole, e.g. button fasteneres, is also available. You can specify the preferred model in the comments to the order.

You can find out about the current availability of the handwoven fabric at the eponymous section of our catalog.

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