Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An inauspicious beginning

I want to write a world history of pants.

That is to say, trousers.

Trousers to the Romans were the dress of the barbarians, the attire of Celts or Germanic Hordes. To China they seem to have come from Mongols, or other northern types. To Japan they may well have first come upon the black ships of the unwashed Perry.

And just look what those barbarians did. Pants are the Galactus of ancient civilizations, great white cities of togas quailed before them.

Or do they simply sweep away decadence? They came to prominence in Europe in the middle of the last Millenium, a spark for the reformation, the Enlightenment, and for a Western Europe that conquered the world. Japan emerged from the stagnation of the Edo period and rapidly rose on the world stage, casting off the kimono of a feudal backwater for the pants of a bright young power.

Then, in the 20th century, societies began to realise the potential of their populations by allowing the female half to take their place in work, science and art, a right taken by millions of women, women in pants.

Pants, the most powerful garment in human existence.


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