Free Women Dress - By Region
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
Listed below are descriptions of how Free Women dress depending on the region they live.
Click a heading to jump to that listing.
Barrens - Red Savages
Jungles of Schendi
Northern Forests - Kassau
Tor and the Tahari
She wore a brief garment of fringed, tanned skin, rent and stained, doubtless a castoff from some free woman's shirtdress, shortened to slave length.
Women, too, in their shirt-dresses and knee-length leggings, and beads, bracelets and armbands, and colorful blankets and capes, astride their kaiila, riding as red savages ride, participated in this barbaric parade.
He had spoken to a girl who was standing near the stirrup of another girl, mounted on a kaiila. The standing girl, to whom Cuwignaka had spoken, had come with the Isanna. She had come walking at the stirrup of the mounted girl. She wore a rather plain shirtdress, with knee-length leggings and moccasins. Her braided hair was tied with red cloth. There were glass beads about her neck. She was quite lovely. The girl on the kaiila, too, was very lovely, indeed, perhaps even more lovely than she afoot. But her beauty, in any event, was much enhanced by her finery. Her dress was of soft-tanned hide, almost white, fringed, into which, about the breasts and shoulders, were worked intricate patterns of yellow and red beading. Her leggings and moccasins were similarly decorated. Her braided hair, glossy and long, was bound with silver string. Two golden bracelets adorned her left wrist. She wore two necklaces of beads, and another on which were threaded tiny, heavy tubes and pendants, spaced intermittently, of silver and gold. Across her forehead hung a tiny silver chain on which were tiny silver droplets.
Among the red savages, of course, free women commonly braid their hair. The lack of braiding, thus, usually, draws an additional distinction between the slaves and free women of the red savages.
Bloketu wore an unfringed, unornamented shirtdress. It was extremely simple and plain. It contrasted markedly with the exquisite, almost white, soft-tanned tabukhide dress, with its beads and finery, worn by her mistress. She, too, had not been given knee-length leggings, of the sort common with the women of the red savages, or moccasins. Her feet were wrapped in hide.
On the cushions, reclining, on one elbow, in yellow robes, embroidered with gold, in many necklaces and jewels, lay a lovely, imperious-seeming girl.
Near her, bored, was a slender, blondish girl, looking about. Her hair was hung in a hood of scarlet yarn, bound with filaments of golden wire. She wore, over her shoulder, a cape of white fur of the northern sea sleen. She had a scarlet vest, embroidered in gold, worn over a long-sleeved blouse of white wool, from distant Ar. She wore, too, a long woolen skirt, dyed red, which was belted with black, with a buckle of gold, wrought in Cos. She wore shoes of black polished leather, which folded about her ankles, laced twice, once across the instep, once about the ankle.
Other wenches, too, were in the crowd. In the northern villages, and in the forest towns, and northward on the coast the woman do not veil themselves, as is common in the cities to the south.
Most of the people seemed poor, fishermen, sawyers, porters, peasants. Most wore simple garments of plain wool, or even rep-cloth. The feet of many were bound in skins.
She was richly dressed. The cape of white fur was a splendid fur. The scarlet vest, the blouse of white wool, the long woolen skirt, red, were fine goods. The buckle from Cos was expensive. Even the shoes of black leather were finely tooled. I supposed her the daughter of a rich merchant. There were other good looking wenches, too, in the crowd, generally blond girls, as are most of the northern girls, many with braided hair. They were in festival finery. This was holiday in Kassau.
I examined the younger women on the platform. None, it seemed to me, was as excellent as the slender blond girl in the cape of white sea-sleen fur and scarlet vest. One was, however, not without interest. She was a tall, statuesque girl, lofty and proud, gray-eyed. She wore black and silver, a full, ankle-length gown of rich, black velvet, with silver belts, or straps, that crossed over her breasts, and tied about her waist. From it, by strings, hung a silver purse, that seemed weighty. Her blond hair was lifted from the sides and back of her head by a comb of bone and leather, like an inverted isosceles triangle, the comb fastened by a tiny black ribbon about her neck and another such ribbon about her forehead. Her cloak, of black fur, from the black sea sleen, glossy and deep, swirled to her ankles. It was fastened by a large circular brooch of silver, probably from Tharna. She was doubtless the daughter of a very rich man. She would have many suitors.
The girl, Sana, whom I carried on the saddle before me, would dress in the heavy robes and veils of the Ubar's daughter and return in her place to the interior of the cylinder.
She was very lovely and attractive in her hunting costume, brief tunic and long hose, brown, a scarlet cape and cap, the cap with a feather. She carried a short, yellow bow, of Ka-la-na wood, which could clear the saddle of the tharlarion, its missile being easily released to either side. Her black boots, slick and shining, were spurred. A quiver of arrows, yellow, was at the left of her saddle.
She had had dark hair, dark eyes.
I recalled the dark-eyed, dark-haired girl, vital and trim in her carefully tailored hunting costume, with the tunic and hose, the boots, cape and feathered cap. It was an attractive outfit.
A free woman, robed in white, veiled, was being carried in a sedan chair by four draft slaves.
"No!" cried the free woman. One of the girls had lifted aside the first of the free woman's veils, and the other had brushed back the first of her hoods.
"No!" cried the free woman. Then, despite her protest, the first girl drew aside the last veil which concealed her features, and the second girl brushed back the final hood, revealing her hair, which was blond. The free woman's blue eyes looked at me, frightened. She had been face-stripped. I saw that she was beautiful.
She wore trousers and a jacket of whitish fur, of the sea sleen; the jacket had a hood, thrown back, rimmed with lart fur, on which human breath does not freeze. Her boots were of the fur of sea sleen, trimmed, too, with lart fur. The jacket was held about her waist, closely, by a narrow belt, black, and shining, with a golden catch. To this belt, on two small straps, hung a dagger sheath; the handle of the weapon was ornamented with red and yellow swirls. Over her shoulder, across her body, was a second belt, from which hung, at her right hip, a pouch and, on a ring, a slave whip, its blades folded, and four coils of narrow, rawhide rope.
Surely her face was beautiful. It was one which, like that of Constance, was very feminine and delicate. It did not comport well with what I took to be the harshness of her charge in the north. Her complexion was very fair; her eyes were softly blue; her hair, fallen about her shoulders, revealed by the thrown-back hood, was a soft, lush auburn in color.
In the center of the road, approaching, between, and with, the lines, drawn by two tharlarion, was an ornately carved, high, two-wheeled cart. An officer, a bearded fellow with a plumed cap, perhaps the captain of the mercenary company, rode beside this cart. On a curule chair, fixed on the high cart, under a silken canopy, proud and graceful, bedecked with finery, garbed in the ornate Robes of Concealment, veiled, sat a woman.
"Hold!" said the woman, lifting her small, white-gloved hand as the cart drew near to me.
She pushed up, under my upper teeth, with her thumb. The robes and veils the women wore were graceful and of silken sheens. They were predominantly blue and yellow in their colors, which are the colors of the slavers. As the lovely sleeve of her robe dropped back I saw, on her left wrist, a heavy, metal-studded wristlet of black leather.
I felt the whip of the Lady Tima pushing up my chin. She was dressed in brief black leather. She wore leather wristlets, studded. There were keys, and a knife, at her belt.
For example, the robes of concealment, prescribed for, and almost universally accepted by, Gorean free women, certainly of the higher castes, were not uniform, drab garmentures imposed on them by, say, an oppressive society which regarded women as inferior, unclean, and morally dangerous, but, in their abundance, in their layers and veilings, in their arrangements and drapings, were tasteful and attractive, and, above all, surely, bright and colorful. One may not see that much of a woman in the robes of concealment but there is no doubt that there is one in there somewhere, and there is no missing that. Yes, a woman can be quite attractive in the robes of concealment, and there is no doubt of that.
The barefootedness of the slave also tends to draw a further distinction between her and the free woman, for the free woman, even of low caste, almost always has footwear of one sort or another, even if it is only a wrapping of cloth.
There are some free women of the upper castes, wealthy women, who from childhood have never dressed themselves, who do not even know the intricate clasps and closures of the robes of concealment they wear, let alone their blendings and drapings, the best colors for the time of day and the season, the arrangements ideally in order for receivings, visitings, promenades, attendance at the readings, the theater, the song drama and so on.
On the continent, free women, in public, particularly those of the upper castes, are muchly concealed. There are the robes of concealment, the veils, the gloves, the slippers, and such. If a free woman had been as much exposed as Sumomo, she might in her humiliation, repudiate her compromised, outraged freedom, and seek the collar, regarding herself as now worthy of no more.
Free Pani women seldom veiled themselves.
He smiled. "It is true," he said, "we know what to do with women."
"At least with slaves," I said.
"With all women," he said.
"But there are free women," I said, "and contract women."
"Women may be sold to contractors," he said, "and contracts, then, may be bought and sold."
"There are free women," I said.
"Yes," he said. "That is true. But I do not think our free women, here in the islands, have quite the pompous, exalted status inflicted on free women across Thassa."
"And you, Haruki, gardener san?" he asked.
"She is quite different from she whom I once knew as Sumomo," said Haruki. "She whom I once knew as Sumomo was a free woman, delicate and refined, as fragile, soft, and exquisite as the petal of a veminium, but, too, petty and unpleasant, cruel and deceitful, arrogant and haughty, impatient and short-tempered, clad in rich garmenture, with silken slippers, with long hair, glistening like dark stars, curled high about her head, fixed in place with a high, black, jade comb."
"But you are clothed now," I said.
"The beasts ransacked the palace," she said. "Perhaps their simple women are now clothed in the kimonos, the sashes, the
Behind Lord Nishida, to his left, stood what I took to be two women of the "strange men," each lovely, each fully clothed, neither veiled, unlike most Gorean free women, particularly of wealth or high caste, in what I supposed, on Earth, would be spoken of as kimonos. I shall, in any event, use that word for such garments, henceforth. Too, interestingly, the garment worn by Lord Nishida, as it is called by the same word in Gorean, korti, I will refer to as a kimono, as well. The woman's kimono is rather different from that of the man. The man's kimono is informal, elegant, and loose, and allows much freedom of movement. The woman's kimono seems narrower and, particularly from the waist down, much more constrictive. The women would walk with short, graceful steps, which gave them an unusual, distinctive gait. The robes of the Gorean free woman, while layered and cumbersome, have much greater play at the hem. The kimono, incidentally, is not allowed to the collar-girls of the "strange men." This is not surprising, of course, as they are animals.
Saru, the former Miss Margaret Wentworth, now far from the mahogany corridors of wealth and power, those which she had once frequented, in her small, manipulative way, in a far city on a distant world, wore a silken kimono, and obi, and figured sandals. Her hair was high on her head, and held in place by pins and an ornate comb. Her garmenture was not unlike that of the contract women I had seen in Tarncamp, in Shipcamp in the holding, and elsewhere, such as Hana Sumomo, Hisui, and others.
The next lot was an interesting one, consisting of two slave girls, clad in the skins of forest panthers, from the northern forests of Gor, and chained together by the throat. They were driven up the steps by a whip slave and forced to kneel at the center of the block.
"Some call them the forest girls," said Ute. "Others call them the panther girls, for they dress themselves in the teeth and skins of forest panthers, which they slay with their spears and bows."
"Build up the fire," said the leader of the girls, a tall, blondish girl. How startling she seemed. She carried a light spear. She was dressed in skins. There were barbaric golden ornaments on her arms, and about her neck.
The tall girl, the blond girl, their leader, called Verna, lithe in the skins of forest panthers, in her golden ornaments, with her spear, strode to where Lana lay on the grass, on her side, bound and gagged.
Sheera was a strong, black-haired wench, with a necklace of claws and golden chains wrapped about her neck. There were twisted golden armlets on her bronzed arms. About her left ankle, threaded, was an anklet of shells. At her belt she wore a knife sheath. The knife was in her hand, and, as she spoke, she played with it, and drew in the sand.
I saw a woman, in the brief skins of the panther women, turn and approach me.
They carried knives on a loop slung about their shoulder. They carried light spears. Their hair was bound back in talmits. On their necks there were no collars, but barbaric strings of claws. On their arms and wrists were golden bands. Two had a golden anklet. Clearly then they were women. Did they not have their vanity? They were clothed briefly, and not that differently from slaves, but they wore not rep-cloth, the wool of the bounding hurt, or silk, work silk or pleasure silk, but the skins of animals, of forest panthers. They were not dressed by men for the pleasure of men, but, perhaps, should the occasion arise, to torment and taunt men. But, too, would not such light garb be ideal for moving easily and swiftly in natural, difficult terrains, in the woods, in the jungles, in evading, hunting, attacking, and perhaps, I thought, in reconnoitering.
"Put them on, Slave Girl," said Thimble, not pleasantly.
"Yes, Mistress," said Arlene. In the hide tent she slipped into the brief fur panties worn by the women of the north. She had been forced to sew them herself, under the direction of Thimble and Thistle. At the left hip they bore the sign of the looped binding fiber, sewn in them with red-dyed sinew, which identified them as the garment of one who was an owned beast.
"Pull on the stockings," said Thimble to Arlene. Arlene did so. The stockings were of lart fur. Each, in its side, wore the sign of the looped binding fiber. "Now," said Thimble, "the boots." In cold weather a layer of grass, for warmth, for insulation, changed daily, is placed in the bottom of the boots, between the inside sole of the boot and the foot of the stocking. Arlene now, of course, did not bother with this. The best harvests of grass for use in this way occur, naturally, at the foot of the bird cliffs. Arlene drew on the high boots. They reached to her crotch. It was a hot crotch, as I had determined, a superb crotch for a slave girl. The fur trim at their top touched the panties. She was stripped from the waist up. Many of the women of the red hunters, too, went about so, inside and outside the tents, in the warmer weather. They, of course, being free, did not have leather, like Arlene, or bondage strings, like Thimble and Thistle, at their throats. Similarly, their garments did not bear the slave marks of the looped binding fiber.
She wore the high fur boots and panties of the woman of the north. As it was, from their point of view, a hot day, one which was above the freezing point, she, like most of the women of the red hunters, was stripped to the waist. About her neck she wore some necklaces.
Her hair was worn knotted in a bun on the top of her head, like that generally of the women of the red hunters. Their hair is worn loose, interestingly, out of doors, only during their menstrual period.
"She may be wearing the garment of a she-urt," I said.
"That is known to us, Citizen," said he.
"I myself," said a nearby guardsman, "stopped a girl answering the description, one in the torn rag of a she-urt, but when I forced her to reveal her thighs, she was unmarked."
I saw her with several other girls, behind the rear court of the Silver Collar. They were fishing through wire trash containers. These had been left outside until, later, when the girls had finished with them, when the residues would be thrown into the canals. It was not an act of pure kindness on the part of the attendants at the paga tavern that the garbage had not been flung directly into the canals.
I looked at the girls. They were all comely. There were seven of them there, not including the one in whom I was interested. They wore rags of various sorts and colors; they had good legs; they were all barefoot.
Suddenly her wrist was seized by the girl, a tall, lovely girl, some four inches taller than she, in a brief white rag, who stood with her at the basket. "Who are you?" demanded the girl in the white rag. You are not one with us." She took the pear from her, with the verr cheese in it. "You have not laid with the paga attendants for your garbage," she said. "Get out!" Any woman, even a free woman, if she is hungry enough, will do anything. The paga attendants knew this. "Get out!" said the girl in the white rag.
"Get out," said the girl in the white rag. "This is our territory." The other girls now, too, belligerently, began to gather around. "Get out," said the girl in the white rag, "or we will tie you and throw you into the canal."
I saw some girls rummaging through a garbage can. They wore short tunics but they were not slaves. Goreans sometimes refer to such women as "strays." They are civic nuisances. They are occasionally rounded up, guardsmen appearing at opposite ends of an alley, trapping them, and collared.
I might try to live by begging and salvaging garbage for a time as do those vagrant free women sometimes called she-urts, but I, being collared, could never pass for one. The she-urts often wear tunics almost as short as those of slaves. This is supposedly to make it easier for them to flee from guardsmen.
"Look, Master!" cried Alice. "There, near the shore! A white girl!"
She was slender-legged and dark-haired. She wore brief skins. She ran down to the edge of the water. Her hands were not bound together but, from each wrist, there hung a knotted rope. It was as though she had been bound and, somehow, had been freed.
"Please save me!" she cried. "Help me!"
I examined the condition of the skins she wore. I noted, also, that she wore a golden armlet and, on her neck, a necklace of claws. She also had, about her waist, a belt, with a dagger sheath, though the sheath was now empty.
Now, on the shore, standing at a post, chains about her body, we saw a blond girl. "Please help me!" she cried, straining against the chains. She, like the first, was dressed in brief skins and, like the first, was ornamented, with an armlet and necklace. Too, about her left ankle, there was a golden bangle.
"Consider also," I said, "that she retained her belt and dagger sheath.
"Too," I said, "she, like the girl at the post, there on the shore, wore clothing and ornaments. One of the first things a captor commonly does with a woman is to take away her clothing. She is not to be permitted to conceal weapons. Also, it helps her to understand that she is a captive. Also, of course, a captor commonly wishes to look upon the beauty of his capture. This pleases him. Also, of course, he may wish to form a conjecture as to its market value or the amount of pleasure he will force it to yield to him. At the very least it seems reasonable that her ornaments, and in particular those of gold, would be removed from her. One does not expect to find rich ornaments of gold on the body of a captured woman. Surely such things belong rather in the loot sack of her captor. She might, of course, wear them later, as her master's property, he using them then to decorate his slave. Consider, too, the nature and condition of their garments. The garments are not ripped or torn. They show no signs of a struggle or of the abuse of their owner. Too, they are skins, of the sort which might be worn by free women, huntresses, not rep-cloth or bark cloth, not rags, of the sort which might be worn by slaves."
"Do you not recall, Janice," I asked, "in one of the villages long ago, one of the men inquired if you were a taluna?"
"Yes," she said.
"Those behind us," I said, "are talunas."
On my belly, quietly, I entered it. Moonlight filtered in through the thatched roof and between the sticks which formed the sides of the hut. She was sleeping within, in her brief skins.
Moments later I stood inland, ankle deep in the white dust. Following me down the gangplank, clad in a black haik, could have been only my companion, the pitiful free woman who shared my poverty. The haik, black, covers the woman from head to toe. At the eyes, there is a tiny bit of black lace, through which she may see. On her feet were soft, black, nonheeled slippers, with curled toes; they were decorated with a line of silver thread.
Free women, in the Tahari, incidentally, usually, when out of their houses, also measure their stride. Some fasten their own ankles together with silken thongs. Some dare even the chain, though they retain its key. Free girls, not yet companions, but of an age appropriate for the companionship, sometimes signal their availability to possible swains by belling their left ankles with a single "virgin bell." The note of this bell, which is bright and clear, is easily distinguished from those of the degrading, sensual bells of the slave. Sometimes free girls, two or more of them, as a girlish lark, obtain slave bells and, chaining their ankles, dress themselves in their haiks and go about the city. Sometimes their girlish amusement does not turn out as they expect. Sometimes they find themselves being sold in markets at obscure oases.
Some of the nomads veil their women, and some do not.
I looked again upon the slender, blondish girl, bored in the crowd. Again she looked at me, and looked away. She was richly dressed. The cape of white fur was a splendid fur. The scarlet vest, the blouse of white wool, the long woolen skirt, red, were fine goods. The buckle from Cos was expensive. Even the shoes of black leather were finely tooled. I supposed her the daughter of a rich merchant. There were other good looking wenches, too, in the crowd, generally blond girls, as are most of the northern girls, many with braided hair. They were in festival finery. This was holiday in Kassau.
"Remove your clothing, my pretty one," said Ivar Forkbeard. She reached behind the back of her neck and unbuttoned the dress of black velvet, and then drew it over her head. She stood then before us in a chemise of fine silk. This, too, she drew over her head, and threw to the ground. She then stood there, statuesque, proudly.
She wore rich green velvet, closed high about her neck, trimmed with gold.
Her hair, long, was braided. It was tied with golden string.
Her hands wore many rings. About her neck she wore, looped, four chains of gold, with pendants. On her wrists were bracelets of silver and gold.
She wore, beneath her green velvet, golden shoes.
Ivar Forkbeard then bent to the girl's feet and pulled away her golden shoes, and, his hands at her legs, she, her eyes closed, removed from her, too, her scarlet, silken hose, She stood, her arm held by my hand, in the fetters, in the dress of green velvet, it torn open at the collar to reveal her throat; she had been stripped of her rings, the bracelets, the chains; her hair was loose; her hose and shoes had been removed.
The stake in this challenge was the young man's sister, a comely, blond lass of fourteen, with braided hair. She was dressed in the full regalia of a free woman of the north. The clothes were not rich, but they were clean, and her best. She wore two brooches, and black shoes. The knife had been removed from the sheath at her belt; she stood straight, but her head was down, her eyes closed; about her neck, knotted, was a rope, it fastened to a stake in the ground near the dueling square. She was not otherwise secured.
The free woman was a tall woman, large. She wore a great cape of fur, of white sea-sleen, thrown back to reveal the whiteness of her arms. Her kirtle was of the finest wool of Ar, dyed scarlet, with black trimmings. She wore two brooches, both carved of the horn of kailiauk, mounted in gold. At her waist she wore a jeweled scabbard, protruding from which I saw the ornamented, twisted blade of a Turian dagger; free women in Torvaldsland commonly carry a knife; at her belt, too, hung her scissors, and a ring of many keys, indicating that her hall contained many chests or doors; her hair was worn high, wrapped about a comb, matching the brooches, of the horn of kailiauk; the fact that her hair was worn dressed indicated that she stood in companionship; the number of keys, together with the scissors, indicated that she was mistress of a great house. She had gray eyes; her hair was dark; her face was cold, and harsh.
Cautiously I poked my head over the edge of the roof. The street was deserted save for a girl, who was standing below, looking up toward the roof. She was dressed in veil and Robes of Concealment. It was she whom I had seen before, when I had thought I might be followed. It was she who had inadvertently detained my pursuers. She carried a broken market basket.
"You make a very poor spy, Tarl Cabot," she said.
"Dina of Turia!" I cried.
I knew her to be barefoot behind me, in the brief-skirted tunic of yellowish-brown rence cloth, cut away at the shoulders to give her freedom of movement. She wore a golden armlet. Her hair was bound back with a bit of purple rep-cloth. She had, as the girls do in rence craft, tied her skirt high about her thighs, for ease in moving and poling. I was terribly conscious of her. Her rather thick ankles seemed to me strong and lovely, and her legs sturdy and fine. Her hips were sweet, her belly a rhythm made for the touch of a man, and her breasts, full and beautiful, magnificent, tormenting me, strained against the brittle rence cloth of her tunic with an insolence of softness, as though, insistent, they would make clear their contempt for any subterfuge of concealment.
She put her hands behind the back of her head to untie the purple fillet of rep-cloth.
We knelt facing one another, but inches apart.
"Touch me and you will die," she said. She laughed.
She disengaged the fillet and shook her hair free. It fell about her shoulders.
Then, as I lay there, bound, she unlaced her tunic, opening it. Her beauty, and it was considerable, was now but ill concealed.
Again she looked on me, and, to my amazement, insolently, with a liquid motion, slipped the tunic off, over her head.
I think I shall win you," said a lithe, dark-haired girl, holding my chin and pushing up my head, that she might better see my face. She was dark-eyed, and slender, and vital. Her legs were marvelous, accentuated by the incredibly brief tunic of the rence girl.
"It is time for contests," called another voice, which I recognized as that of Telima, my mistress. She wore the golden armlet, and the purple fillet tying back her hair. She wore the brief tunic of the rence girl. She was exceedingly well pleased with herself today, and was stunning in her beauty. She walked, head back, as though she might own the earth. In her hand she carried a throwing stick.
Suddenly, before me, hands over her head, swaying to the music, I saw the dark-haired, lithe girl, she with such marvelous, slender legs in the brief rence skirt;
Holding half the rence cake in her mouth she unrolled her sleeping mat and then, as she had the night before, she unlaced her tunic and slipped it off over her head. She threw it to the corner of the hut, on her left, near her feet.
Tuchuk women, unveiled, in their long leather dresses, long hair bound in braids, tended cooking pots hung on tem-wood tripods over dung fires. These women were unscarred, but like the bosk themselves, each wore a nose ring. That of the animals is heavy and of gold, that of the women also of gold but tiny and fine, not unlike the wedding rings of my old world.
She wore a brief leather skirt, slit on the right side to allow her the saddle of the kaiila; her leather blouse was sleeveless; attached to her shoulders was a crimson cape; and her wild black hair was bound back by a band of scarlet cloth. Like the other women of the Wagons she wore no veil and, like them, fixed in her nose was the tiny, fine ring that proclaimed her people.
"Do free women on Gor not wear earrings?" asked Alyena.
"Never," I said.