A banyan (through Portuguese banian and Arabic بنيان, "banyān", from the Gujarati વાણિયો, "vāṇiyo", meaning 'merchant') is a garment worn by men in the 18th century influenced by
Persian and Asian clothing.
Banyan is also commonly used in present day Indian English to mean vest (undershirt in American English).
Also called a morning gown, "robe de chambre" or nightgown, the banyan was a loose, T-shaped or
kimono-like cotton, linen, or silk gownworn at home as a sort of dressing gown or informal coat over the shirt and breeches. It was usually paired with a soft, turban-like cap worn in place of the formal periwig.
Wearing the banyan
In the humid climate of Colonial Virginia, gentlemen wore lightweight banyans as informal street wear in summer.
It was fashionable for men of an intellectual or philosophical bent to have their
portraitspainted while wearing banyans. Benjamin Rushwrote::"Loose dresses contribute to the easy and vigorous exercise of the faculties of the mind. This remark is so obvious, and so generally known, that we find studious men are always painted in gowns, when they are seated in their libraries." [cite web|url=http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/franklin/rush.htm|title=Franklin and Friends|accessdate=2006-03-19]
Despite the name "nightgown", the banyan was not worn for sleeping.
1700-1750 in fashion
1750-1795 in fashion
*Ashelford, Jane: "The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914", Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5
*Baumgarten, Linda: "What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America", Yale University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-300-09580-5
*Cunnington, C.Willett and Phillis Emily Cunnington: "Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century". London: Faber, 1972.
*Payne, Blanche: "History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century", Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS
* [http://www.history.org/history/clothing/men/mglossary.cfm A Colonial Gentlemen's Clothing: A Glossary of Terms]
* [http://www.costumes.org/HISTORY/100pages/BANYAN.HTM Banyans at The Costumer's Manifesto]
* [http://www.virtualmuseum.info/collections/themes/costume_gallery/html/history.html Surviving banyans Brighton & Hove Museums]
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