Sunday, December 22, 2013

Costly Apparel

The Book of Mormon inveighs against "costly apparel" a number of times (Jacob 2:13; Alma 1:6, 27, 32; 4:6; 5:53; 31:28; Helaman 13:28; 4 Nephi 1:24). Any sort of elaboration of the term includes "their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented" (Alma 31:28), "all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world." (4 Nephi 1:24).

Aztec accounts note the role of merchants and clothing. During the reign of Quaquauhpitzauac, the first king of Tlatilulco,
they engage in trade: they sold only red arara and blue and scarlet parrot feathers.
Under the second ruler, Tlacateotl,
appeared quetzal feathers, [but] not yet the long ones, and troupial and turquoise, and green stones; and capes [and] breech clouts of fine cotton. What was being worn was still all maguey fiber capes, netted capes of maguey fiber, breech clouts, shifts, skirts of maguey fiber.
 Under the third ruler, Quauhtlatoatzin,
appeared gold lip and ear plugs and rings for the fingers -- those called matzatzaztli [or] anillo; and necklaces with radiating pendants, and fine turquoise, and enormous green stones, and long quetzal feathers; and the skins of wild animals; and long troupial feathers, and blue cotinga and red spoonbill feathers.
Under the fourth ruler, Moquiuixtzin,
appeared costly capes - the wonderful red ones, with the wind jewel design; and white duck feather capes; and capes with cup-shaped designs in feathers; and wonderful breech clouts with embroidered ends -with long ends at the extremities of the breech clouts; and embroidered skirts [and] shifts; and capes eight fathoms long of twisted weave; and chocolate. And all [and] everything [already] mentioned- quetzal feathers, gold, green stones, all the precious feathers -at this time increased, augmented even more. (Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, Florentine Codex, Book 9, chapter 1.)
Although the Aztecs are later than the Nephites, they provide an indication of the variety of costly apparel available in Mesoamerica.

The garments for men appear to have been mainly capes and loincloths, with some shifts and skirts. This matches the depictions of Mayan people. The ornamentation consists of metals and precious stones along with feathers from various birds.

These provide an indication of the types of costly apparel that probably would have been available to Nephites and Lamanites in Book of Mormon times.

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