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Palla-an ancient Roman female cloak in the shape of a rectangle. Initially, the palla, like the Doric chiton, served as an undergarment, but during the early Roman Republic, the tunic became the lower garment , and the palla, sometimes decorated with embroidery, turned into a cape for ceremonial exits.

The palla was worn as follows: one end of it was thrown over the left shoulder, the middle part was wrapped around the back, and the other end was either thrown over the right shoulder or passed through the right arm from behind. At the same time, the hand remained free, and the end of the palla went down from the left hand to the legs. Palla could cover the head, especially often so worn during rituals, which gave a resemblance to a priestly toga. Sometimes the palla was fixed or decorated with fibulas or a belt.

The palla, being an analogue of the male toga, also began to go out of fashion during the Empire. In the third century, it was replaced by Dalmatian and Colobian. Palla could be found in the wardrobe of non-noble women, foreign women, freedmen and hetaerae. Matrons wore mostly tablecloths.

Statue of Libya praying. Marble. Rome, Vatican Museum of Pius Clement, Inv. no. 637. Second quarter of the 1st century AD
Libya. Marble. Paris, Louvre Museum. Inv. № Mr 260/ Ma 1245. Mid-1st century AD
Statue of sitting Livia. Rome, Museum of Roman Culture. Copy. Original in the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, Spain. Early 1st century AD

Based on the many antique frescoes and paintings, it can be concluded that the pallas were painted in various colors of subdued brightness. The most common colors are pink, orange, blue, green, light green, and yellow.

Seeing off the Chryseis. Pompeii. 45-79 A.D.
Fresco from Pompeii. The surgeon's house. National Archaeological Museum of Naples (inv. 9018). 50-79 AD


Palla is suitable for reconstructing almost all female images of ancient Rome. These can be commoners, hetaerae, priestesses, foreign women, freedmen. It is best to sew a palla made of fine wool or linen. It is possible to use thicker wool if you have a need to insulate yourself.

Resident of Rome in palle, reconstruction
Roman matron in Palla, reconstruction

Related topics

Tunic, Matrona, Fibula, Toga, Balteus, A woman in Ancient Rome


Palla // Encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron : in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additions). - St. Petersburg, 1890-1907.