Religious habit

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St. Anthony the Great, wearing the Coptic habit. StAnthony.jpg
St. Anthony the Great, wearing the Coptic habit.

A religious habit is a distinctive set of religious clothing worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been worn by those leading the religious eremitic and anchoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform style.

Religious clothing is clothing which is worn in accordance with religious practice, tradition or significance to a faith group. It includes clerical clothing such as cassocks, and religious habit, robes, and other vestments. Accessories include hats, wedding rings, crucifixes, etc.

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.

Hermit person who lives in seclusion from society

A hermit, or eremite, is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sections of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well.

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In the typical Roman Catholic or Anglican orders, the habit consists of a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl, with a hood for monks or friars and a veil for nuns; in other orders it may be a distinctive form of cassock for men, or a distinctive habit and veil for women. Modern habits are sometimes eschewed in favor of a simple business suit. Catholic Canon Law requires only that it be in some way identifiable so that the person may serve as a witness of Gospel values. This requires flexibility and creativity. For instance in Turkey, a Franciscan might wear street clothes.

Tunic simple T-shaped or sleeveless garment, usually unfitted, of archaic origin

A tunic is a garment for the body, usually simple in style, reaching from the shoulders to a length somewhere between the hips and the knees. The name derives from the Latin tunica, the basic garment worn by both men and women in Ancient Rome, which in turn was based on earlier Greek garments that covered wearers' waists.

Scapular short cloak worn with ecclesiastical dress

The scapular is a Western Christian garment suspended from the shoulders. There are two types of scapular, the monastic and devotional scapular, although both forms may simply be referred to as "scapular". As an object of popular piety, it serves to remind the wearers of their commitment to live a Christian life.

The cowl is an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves. Originally it may have referred simply to the hooded portion of a cloak. In contemporary usage, however, it is distinguished from a cloak or cape (cappa) by the fact that it refers to an entire closed garment. Today it is worn primarily by most Catholic and Anglican monks when participating in liturgical services.

In many orders, the conclusion of postulancy and the beginning of the novitiate is marked by a ceremony, during which the new novice is accepted then clothed in the community's habit by the superior. In some cases the novice's habit will be somewhat different from the customary habit: for instance, in certain orders of women that use the veil, it is common for novices to wear a white veil while professed members wear black, or if the order generally wears white, the novice wears a grey veil. Among some Franciscan communities of men, novices wear a sort of overshirt over their tunic; Carthusian novices wear a black cloak over their white habit.

A postulant was originally one who makes a request or demand; hence, a candidate. The use of the term is now generally restricted to those asking for admission into a monastery or a religious institute, both before actual admission and for the period of time preceding their admission into the novitiate. Currently, however, common usage terms the person who has not yet been accepted by the institution as an "inquirer" or "observer".

Novitiate

The novitiate, also called the noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a Christian novice monastic, apostolic, or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether he or she is called to vowed religious life. It often includes times of intense study, prayer, living in community, studying the vowed life, deepening one's relationship with God, and deepening one's self-awareness. It is a time of creating a new way of being in the world. The novitiate stage in most communities is a two-year period of formation. These years are "Sabbath time" to deepen one's relationship with God, to intensify the living out of the community's mission and charism, and to foster human growth. The novitiate experience for many communities includes a concentrated program of prayer, study, reflection and limited ministerial engagement.

Veil any lightweight covering for the head or face or both

A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the head or face, or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent in different forms in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The practice of veiling is especially associated with women and sacred objects, though in some cultures it is men rather than women who are expected to wear a veil. Besides its enduring religious significance, veiling continues to play a role in some modern secular contexts, such as wedding customs.

In some orders, different types or levels of profession are indicated by differences in habits.

Buddhism

Monks from Central Asia and China wearing traditional kasaya. Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th-10th century. Central Asian Buddhist Monks.jpeg
Monks from Central Asia and China wearing traditional kāṣāya. Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th-10th century.

Kāṣāya (Sanskrit: काषाय kāṣāya; Pali: kasāva; Chinese : 袈裟; pinyin : jiāshā; Cantonese Jyutping : gaa1saa1; Japanese : 袈裟 kesa; Korean : 袈裟 가사 gasa; Vietnamese : cà-sa), "chougu" (Tibetan) are the robes of Buddhist monks and nuns, named after a brown or saffron dye. In Sanskrit and Pali, these robes are also given the more general term cīvara, which references the robes without regard to color.

Sanskrit language of ancient Indian subcontinent

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

Pali Middle Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian subcontinent

Pali or Magadhan is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the Pāli Canon or Tipiṭaka, and is the sacred language of Theravāda Buddhism. The earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of canonical Pali comes from Pyu city-states inscriptions found in Burma dated to the mid 5th to mid 6th century CE.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Origin and construction

An early representation of the Buddha wearing kasaya robes, in the Hellenistic style. Gandhara Buddha (tnm).jpeg
An early representation of the Buddha wearing kāṣāya robes, in the Hellenistic style.

Buddhist kāṣāya are said to have originated in India as set of robes for the devotees of Gautama Buddha. A notable variant has a pattern reminiscent of an Asian rice field. Original kāṣāya were constructed of discarded fabric. These were stitched together to form three rectangular pieces of cloth, which were then fitted over the body in a specific manner. The three main pieces of cloth are the antarvāsa, the uttarāsaṅga, and the saṃghāti. [1] Together they form the "triple robe," or tricīvara. The tricīvara is described more fully in the Theravāda Vinaya (Vin 1:94 289).

India Country in South Asia

India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Gautama Buddha Founder of Buddhism

Siddhārtha Gautama or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, also called the Gautama Buddha, the Shakyamuni Buddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (śramaṇa), mendicant, sage, philosopher, teacher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

Textile Material produced by twining, weaving, felting, knotting, or otherwise processing natural or synthetic fibers

A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, hemp, or other materials to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting or tatting, felting, or braiding.

Uttarāsaṅga

A robe covering the upper body. It is worn over the undergarment, or antarvāsa. In representations of the Buddha, the uttarāsaṅga rarely appears as the uppermost garment, since it is often covered by the outer robe, or saṃghāti.

Saṃghāti

The saṃghāti is an outer robe used for various occasions. It comes over the upper robe (uttarāsaṅga), and the undergarment (antarvāsa). In representations of the Buddha, the saṃghāti is usually the most visible garment, with the undergarment or uttarāsaṅga protruding at the bottom. It is quite similar in shape to the Greek himation, and its shape and folds have been treated in Greek style in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhāra.

Himation A mantle or wrap worn by ancient Greek men and women from the Archaic through the Hellenistic periods

A himation was a type of clothing, a mantle or wrap worn by ancient Greek men and women from the Archaic through the Hellenistic periods.

Greco-Buddhist art Artistic syncretism between Classical Greece and Buddhist India

Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1,000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, and the Islamic conquests of the 7th century AD. Greco-Buddhist art is characterized by the strong idealistic realism and sensuous description of Hellenistic art and the first representations of the Buddha in human form, which have helped define the artistic canon for Buddhist art throughout the Asian continent up to the present. It is also a strong example of cultural syncretism between eastern and western traditions.

Additions

Other items that may have been worn with the triple robe were:

  • a waist cloth, the kushalaka
  • a buckled belt, the samakaksika
Indian depiction of the Buddha wearing red robes. Sanskrit manuscript. Nalanda, Bihar, India. Pala period. Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Victory Over Mara.jpeg
Indian depiction of the Buddha wearing red robes. Sanskrit manuscript. Nālandā, Bihar, India. Pāla period.

Kāṣāya in Indian Buddhism

In India, variations of the kāṣāya robe distinguished different types of monastics. These represented the different schools that they belonged to, and their robes ranged widely from red and ochre, to blue and black. [2]

Between 148 and 170 CE, the Parthian monk An Shigao came to China and translated a work which describes the color of monastic robes utilized in five major Indian Buddhist sects, called Dà Bǐqiū Sānqiān Wēiyí (Ch. 大比丘三千威儀). [3] Another text translated at a later date, the Śariputraparipṛcchā, contains a very similar passage corroborating this information, but the colors for the Sarvāstivāda and Dharmaguptaka sects are reversed. [4] [5]

NikāyaDà Bǐqiū Sānqiān WēiyíŚariputraparipṛcchā
Sarvāstivāda Deep RedBlack
Dharmaguptaka BlackDeep Red
Mahāsāṃghika YellowYellow
Mahīśāsaka BlueBlue
Kaśyapīya MagnoliaMagnolia

In traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, which follow the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya, red robes are regarded as characteristic of the Mūlasarvāstivādins. [6]

According to Dudjom Rinpoche from the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the robes of fully ordained Mahāsāṃghika monastics were to be sewn out of more than seven sections, but no more than twenty-three sections. [7] The symbols sewn on the robes were the endless knot (Skt. śrīvatsa) and the conch shell (Skt. śaṅkha), two of the Eight Auspicious Signs in Buddhism. [8]

Jiāshā in Chinese Buddhism

In Chinese Buddhism, the kāṣāya is called gāsā (Ch. 袈裟). During the early period of Chinese Buddhism, the most common color was red. Later, the color of the robes came to serve as a way to distinguish monastics, just as they did in India. However, the colors of a Chinese Buddhist monastic's robes often corresponded to their geographical region rather than to any specific schools. [9] By the maturation of Chinese Buddhism, only the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage was still in use, and therefore the color of robes served no useful purpose as a designation for sects, the way that it had in India.

Kesa in Japanese Buddhism

Japanese Buddhist Priest's Mantle (Kesa), 1775-1825. LACMA textile collections. JapaneseKesaofMabury.jpg
Japanese Buddhist Priest’s Mantle (Kesa), 1775-1825. LACMA textile collections.

In Japanese Buddhism, the kāṣāya is called kesa (Jp. 袈裟). In Japan, during the Edo and Meiji periods, kesa were even sometimes pieced together from robes used in Noh theatre.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The Analavos, worn by Orthodox monks and nuns of the Great Schema. Megaloschema.svg
The Analavos, worn by Orthodox monks and nuns of the Great Schema.

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not have distinct religious orders such as those in the Catholic Church. The habit (Greek: Σχήμα, Schēma) is essentially the same throughout the world. The normal monastic color is black, symbolic of repentance and simplicity. The habits of monks and nuns are identical; additionally, nuns wear a scarf, called an apostolnik. The habit is bestowed in degrees, as the monk or nun advances in the spiritual life. There are three degrees: (1) the beginner, known as the Rassaphore ("robe bearer") (2) the intermediate, known as the Stavrophore ("cross bearer"), and (3) the Great Schema worn by Great Schema Monks or Nuns. Only the last, the Schemamonk or Schemanun, the monastic of the highest degree, wears the full habit.

The habit is formally bestowed upon monks and nuns at the ceremony known as the tonsure. The parts of the Eastern Orthodox habit are:

St. Tikhon of Moscow wearing the patriarchal white koukoulion Tikhon of Moscow.jpg
St. Tikhon of Moscow wearing the patriarchal white koukoulion

The portions of the habit worn by the various degrees of monastics is as follows:

RasophoreStavrophoreGreat Schema
Inner RasonInner RasonInner Rason
BeltBeltBelt
ParamandParamand
Outer RasonOuter RasonOuter Rason
Analavos
Mantle (Russian use only)Mantle
Polystavrion
KalymafkiKalymafkiKoukoulion

Hinduism

Islam

Jainism

Female ascetics and Svetambara male monks always wear un-stitched or minimally stitched white clothes. Digambara Jain monks do not wear clothes. A loin cloth which reaches up to the shins is called a Cholapattak. Another cloth to cover the upper part of the body is called Pangarani (Uttariya Vastra). A cloth that passes over the left shoulder and covers the body up to a little above the ankle is called a Kïmli. Kïmli is a woolen shawl. They also carry a woolen bed sheet and a woolen mat to sit on. Those who wear clothes have a muhapati, which is a square or rectangular piece of cloth of a prescribed measurement, either in their hand or tied on their face covering the mouth. Svetambara ascetics have an Ogho or Rajoharan (a broom of woolen threads) to clean insects around their sitting place or while they are walking. Digambara ascetics have a Morpichhi and a Kamandal in their hands. This practice may vary among different sects of Jains but essential principle remains the same to limit needs.

Judaism

Roman Catholicism

Nuns in traditional habit. Sisters (Daughters of Mary) Roman Catholic Singing.jpg
Nuns in traditional habit.

Pope John Paul II in his Post-Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata (1996) says concerning the religious habit of consecrated persons:

§25 … The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.
Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.
Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.
Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation.

Nuns

Polish Daughter of Charity wearing a white cornette and habit in 1939 Bundesarchiv Bild 121-0320, Krakau, Gefangnis Montelupich, Klosterschwester.jpg
Polish Daughter of Charity wearing a white cornette and habit in 1939

The religious habit of Roman Catholic nuns typically consists of the following elements:

Other accessories:

Different orders adhered to different styles of dress; these styles have changed over time. In the 12th century the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen, for example, advocated a style for her nuns that included extravagant and lavish white silk habits worn with golden head pieces designed to present the nun to Christ in her most beautiful form.

Priests

Usually, priests wear black or another dark color along with a white clerical collar. A cassock is worn in more formal situations. White may be worn in warmer climates. A priest is ceremonially given their habit, and it symbolizes that they are a part of the church. Also, a ferraiolo (a kind of cope) is worn along with the cassock on very formal occasions, priests also traditionally wear a biretta on the head.

Shinto

In Japan, various types of very traditional dress are worn by Shinto priests, often dating to styles worn by nobles during the Nara period or Heian period.

See also

Footnotes

  1. Kieschnick, John. The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. Princeton University Press, Oxfordshire, 2003. p. 90.
  2. Kieschnick, John. The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. Princeton University Press, Oxfordshire, 2003. p. 89.
  3. Hino, Shoun. Three Mountains and Seven Rivers. 2004. p. 55
  4. Hino, Shoun. Three Mountains and Seven Rivers. 2004. pp. 55-56
  5. Sujato, Bhante (2012), Sects & Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools, Santipada, p. i, ISBN   9781921842085
  6. Mohr, Thea. Tsedroen, Jampa. Dignity and Discipline: Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns. 2010. p. 266
  7. Dudjom Rinpoche Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows. 1999. p. 16
  8. Dudjom Rinpoche Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows. 1999. p. 16
  9. Kieschnick, John. The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. Princeton University Press, Oxfordshire, 2003. p. 89.

Further reading

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