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Restoration of certain vestments and other clothing?


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#1 Reader Luke

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:01 AM

I was recently listening to a podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko and he was discussing the various changes that were made to Orthodox vesture because of the Turks. Some of this includes the riassa (wide sleeved cassock, vs. tight fitting), the mitre (for bishops) and the kamilavka. He mentioned how these are all basically signs of Turkish dominance and occupation.

Well, it got me thinking, why do we still have these if they were imposed on us by the Turks, especially when the Turks no longer affect us and no longer have dominance over us? (obviously, excluding the 2500 Orthodox in Turkey)

Also, one of the other vestments that dissapeared were the choral vestments, which have recently been recovered/recreated by the group Romeiko Ensemble.

Is there anything stopping us from leaving these behind us and restoring pre-1453 Orthodox vesture?

That would basically mean changing from this:
http://www.kwvestments.com/images/102ant_exo.jpg
to this:
http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/monk-200x0.jpg

This:
http://upload.wikime...d_Shankbone.jpg
to this:
http://ocaphoto.oca.org/filetmp/2003/January/406/Detail/DSC_0006.jpg

this:
http://classicalchristianity.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Orthodox-Mitre.jpg
to this:
http://www.melkite.org/NewImages/Johnchrysostom.jpg

and returning the tonsured hair to clergy. (that is, shorter hair, with beards)

Would there be anything wrong with this?

#2 Olga

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:30 AM

My understanding is that the closer-fitting cassock is worn by clergy when they are not serving (i.e. their equivalent of "civvies"), and the wider-sleeved one is worn over it while serving, making it part of liturgical vestment. So the two are not interchangeable. If I'm wrong in this, I welcome correction from the Fathers on the forum. :-)

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:33 AM

Only if I get to wear one of those cantor's hats!

Herman the hat-lovin' Pooh

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:58 AM

is there any reason why we should go back? What would be wrong with not going back?

Herman the question-lovin' Pooh

#5 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 04:25 AM

Yes, the inner cassock (the one with narrow sleeves) is worn under the outer cassock (the one with wide sleeves). They are NOT inter-changeable, nor are they the same thing. Admittedly, the names for these gets a bit confusing depending on what language you're using. The Greeks call the inner one the Riassa, and the outer one the Exo-riassa. The Russians call the inner one the Podriaznik (sp?), and the outer one the Riassa. So the term "Riassa" can mean two different things depending on what language, or background, one is working in.

But, yes, there does seem to be evidence, in icons at least, that the monastic habit did not originally have the stovepipe type hat under the veil, as it does now. Essentially, all monastics, males as well as females, would basically have worn the veil much like the way it is worn now by Greek nuns. I'm not sure if, or how, we'll ever get to restore that, but finding a way around having to have a somewhat awkward, expensive, and, to be honest, fragile, hat like that wouldn't be a bad thing, IMHO.

#6 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 04:28 AM

Then again, since the Phanar is not free of the Turkish yoke, the symbolic statement of solidarity with them might have some significance.

Hmmm...

#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:24 PM

My understanding is that the closer-fitting cassock is worn by clergy when they are not serving (i.e. their equivalent of "civvies"), and the wider-sleeved one is worn over it while serving, making it part of liturgical vestment. So the two are not interchangeable. If I'm wrong in this, I welcome correction from the Fathers on the forum. :-)


In the Russian tradition married clergy usually wear a ryassa over the cassock; often also a skufya on their head. This applies to when they are doing other churchly activities apart from serving. Monastics though often wear just a monastic cassock and skufya, especially once outside of the church itself.

As to the claim (in the other posts) that much of our present day clerical garments come from Turkish influence. Considerably more evidence would need to be presented to show that this is indeed so. Do we mean that the garments themselves were Turkish or that they were adopted during the period of Turkish domination? The former seems to be often claimed but evidence of this and why is in order. For example if the influence was direct- why did the Slavs also adopt it? They weren't under Turkish rule and were even at war with the Turks through much of the 18th- 19th centuries. This seems like an unlikely time to have willingly adopted Turkish garments.

Development itself then seems like a more likely explanation for the changes that occurred. If this is so then we need more explanations of what influenced this development.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#8 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:04 PM

It might also be worth considering that God often works in "strange" ways, and uses Philistines and Babylonians and Ottman Turks to His Glory as well. Perhaps it is less about HOW something happened and more about the iconographic meaning achieved.

Some scholars have written that the bishop's mitre was adopted as a symbol of political authority since the Ottman Turks relied on the bishops to govern the "Rum Millet", and that the clerical garments became modeled after Byzantine Court fashion. But it can have other purposes as well. Christ clothed His Divinity with humanity. The clerical garb shows our humanity glorified in Christ's Divinity. Since few physically achieve the "uncreated light", the magnificence of the vestments portray this iconographically, in a similar manner as the aureole (elongated halo) on the icon of the Transfiguration.

What is the purpose of "reverting"? What, exactly, would we be representing/stating? Are we looking for a more "simple" or "humble" presentation? Perhaps we are trying to make the "servant of all" look more like a servant? While this may indeed serve a purpose to humble the cleric, what does it communicate to the laity? Don't we do enough in practical day-to-day matters to "humble" our bishops and priest already? Do not the many "silent" prayers of the Divine Liturgy make this apparent to the celebrant in no uncertain terms?

We put fancy clothing on our clergy, not for their sakes, but for ours. Many priests I am acquainted with are painfully aware of this, especially on hot days when the air conditioning is not quite up to the job!

Regardless of HOW it came to be, each and every article of clothing has a meaning, and generally a prayer attached to it when putting it on, so that the clergy, at the very least, knows why he is wearing it. Before we go about deleting or changing things, it is good to understand WHY things are the way they are.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh (who still would wear one of those cantor's hats!)

#9 Reader Luke

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 04:30 PM

I think it is because they were imposed on us by the Turks, not that they were adopted during that period. They were actually imposed forcefully.

The Bishops were forced to wear the Mitre because they had become representatives of the Greek people, and were thus considered the secular leaders over the Greek laity as well as the spiritual leaders. This is the way the Turks viewed them, and so they were made to wear the mitre. They also began to grow their hair longer, which was in the style of secular Turkish leaders and a sign of political and secular power.

The reason the Russians adopted it was because of the "reforms" during the Nikonian period. Due to ignorance, Patriarch Nikon and others assumed that some of the differences between the Greeks & the Russians was because the Greeks held the "older" practice. So the Russians adopted things like the Mitre, the Riassa etc...
Of course, the reforms have been largely rejected/rescinded since that period.

God might work in mysterious ways, but you can't really use the argument for the Philistines and the Babylonians, because that was before Christ. If the Roman Catholics had invaded a major Orthodox country and imposed the rosary, the doctrine of purgatory, the western idea of episcopal authority, western vesture, etc... Then would that be considered to be "God-inspired" change? Even if it remained in an Orthodox Church for centuries after the occupation began?

I guess I'm of the opinion that we need to rid ourselves of most of the Turkish/Muslims influences, as well as many of the Post-Schism Western influences as well. Just because it exists in the Church doesn't make it right.

#10 Olga

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:51 PM

I guess I'm of the opinion that we need to rid ourselves of most of the Turkish/Muslims influences, as well as many of the Post-Schism Western influences as well. Just because it exists in the Church doesn't make it right.


Ridding the Church of errors of doctrine and theology is one thing, but ridding ourselves of items of vestment because they are perceived to be of non-Orthodox origin? And I'm not entirely sure long hair among clergy came in with the Ottomans.

#11 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 10:39 PM

God might work in mysterious ways, but you can't really use the argument for the Philistines and the Babylonians, because that was before Christ. If the Roman Catholics had invaded a major Orthodox country and imposed the rosary, the doctrine of purgatory, the western idea of episcopal authority, western vesture, etc... Then would that be considered to be "God-inspired" change? Even if it remained in an Orthodox Church for centuries after the occupation began?


We don't have to conjecture "what ifs". If God had indeed wanted it, it could have happened just that way. God is more powerful than the Turks, than the Catholics, even more powerful than me or you.

I guess I'm of the opinion that we need to rid ourselves of most of the Turkish/Muslims influences, as well as many of the Post-Schism Western influences as well. Just because it exists in the Church doesn't make it right.


Guess I'm of the opinion that it really doesn't matter what our opinions are, but what the Holy Spirit directs. Just because we don't think it is right (or we just don't agree with it) doesn't make it wrong. That is why He gave us bishops, to maintain good order in the Church in a conciliatory manner. That is why they get to wear the funny hats!

Herman the "I might not be right, but I could be wrong about that" Pooh

#12 Paul Cowan

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 12:51 AM

I say let's bring back the flip-flops. Everyone wore sandals back in the day and frankly, my dog's are barking by the end of the liturgy on Sundays in my dress shoes.

#13 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 02:09 AM

I say let's bring back the flip-flops. Everyone wore sandals back in the day and frankly, my dog's are barking by the end of the liturgy on Sundays in my dress shoes.


What about these little beauties? And you can get them in a full range of liturgical colours to boot!

Attached Files



#14 Reader Luke

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 02:26 AM

We don't have to conjecture "what ifs". If God had indeed wanted it, it could have happened just that way. God is more powerful than the Turks, than the Catholics, even more powerful than me or you.



Guess I'm of the opinion that it really doesn't matter what our opinions are, but what the Holy Spirit directs. Just because we don't think it is right (or we just don't agree with it) doesn't make it wrong. That is why He gave us bishops, to maintain good order in the Church in a conciliatory manner. That is why they get to wear the funny hats!

Herman the "I might not be right, but I could be wrong about that" Pooh


But how are we to know that the Holy Spirit inspired these changes? I'm a bit skeptical about that, especially because they came from Non-Christians.

(especially when things like the mitre and the Turkish view of the episcopacy actually has led to incorrect doctrine in the way of Orthodox bishops.)

#15 Olga

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 07:38 AM

But how are we to know that the Holy Spirit inspired these changes? I'm a bit skeptical about that, especially because they came from Non-Christians.


The Holy Spirit indeed guides the Church in matters of doctrine and theology, but does it do so in the matter of clerical garb?

#16 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 11:28 AM

Well, it IS a bit challenging to know exactly what the Holy Spirit has in mind. Just look at the Protestants, they can't seem to agree on much of anything in the way of practice or doctrine. THAT is what happens when every "believer" has to decide what is and what is not "of the Spirit". Again, this is why we have bishops, guiding the Church in a consciliatory manner. If you can convince all of the bishops that you are right and they are wrong, then God be with you indeed.

I am very curious as to which doctrine of the Church is incorrect due to mitres in your estimation.

Herman the courious Pooh

#17 Brian Rowlands

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 12:07 PM

The Holy Spirit indeed guides the Church in matters of doctrine and theology, but does it do so in the matter of clerical garb?


Well, God was quite specific about how He wished the High Priest and the other priests to dress in the Jewish Temple!

Apologies - I was just overcome by a touch of mischevious hilarity.

Edited by Brian Rowlands, 01 September 2011 - 12:10 PM.
To capitalise 'He'


#18 Reader Luke

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 09:29 PM

It doesn't directly relate to mitres per se, other than the fact that the Turks treated the Bishops as secular political leaders.
But rather that some have formulated a doctrine that the Bishop is standing in place of Christ, and that he is a visual representative of Christ.

There are some other doctrines as well, Fr. Thomas Hopko has pointed them out but I cannot remember them. Most of them seem to be either influenced by the Turks or are Roman Catholic influences on Orthodoxy.

(a lot of it probably also has to do with the perceived role of the Ecumenical Patriarch vs. its traditional & historic role)

#19 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 01:36 PM

Well in that we are not Protestants, it really isn't up to us to tell our bishops what they should or should not wear. Orthodox doctrine does not rely on individual opinions, but on time-tested consensus.

Since when is the bishop NOT an icon ("visual representative"?) of Christ? Fr. Thomas Hopko is a very respected and intelligent man, but there are many other intelligent and respected Orthodox who do not see him as the last word in Orthodox teachings.

If you can convince all the bishops to give up their mitres and the monastics to cut their hair, then to God be the glory. Until then, this bear of admittedly little brain is not losing any sleep over the matter.

Herman the Pooh

#20 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 10:00 PM

Generally, hasn't "restorationism" been more a practice of the Protestants (and those who simultaneously are Protestant and deny their Protestantism) than of the Orthodox?




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