CANDYS (Gk. kándys), name probably of Iranian origin used by Greek authors for a Persian garment; the name may be reconstructed as Old Persian *kandu­- (beside Median *kanzu-ka-, in Elamite kan-su-ka, Par­thian qnjwg, etc., “cloak”; cf. M. Schwartz apud I. Gershevitch, TPS, 1979, p. 149 n. 37) or as Old Persian *kantu- (lit. “covering” from *kan- “to cover” [H. W. Bailey apud G. Thompson, Iran 3, 1965, p. 122 n. 13] or from *kam- “idem” [O. Szemerényi, Stud. Ir. 9, 1980, p. 53] or “coat thrown round the shoulders” from *kan- ­“to throw” [Hinz, p.72]). (The identification with Polish kontusz “a great coat,” as suggested by Widen­gren, p. 237, is linguistically anachronistic and there­fore unacceptable.)

Xenophon, Anabasis 1.5.8 (the oldest source in which the term occurs) describes the candys as a purple outer garment worn by high-ranking Persians in the en­tourage of Cyrus the Younger; under the candys they wore costly tunics (khitônes), colored trousers (anaxy­rides), and jewelry, such as necklaces and bracelets. Compared to this passage the one in Xenophon, Cyropaedia 1.3.2, seems to be secondary: There all these items are ascribed to the Medes, while ibid., 8.3.13 Cyrus is said to wear a solid purple (holopórphyros) candys over a purple tunic shot with white (the typically royal dress) and scarlet trousers (elsewhere these articles are combined to form the so-called “Median stole”). Xenophon (ibid., 8.3.10) also states, however, that horsemen put their arms through the candys only when the king was inspecting them. This statement strongly recalls the Persepolis representations of mantles with empty sleeves (Thompson, op. cit., p. 122). Pollux (Onomasticon 7.58), who lists the candys among typi­cally Persian clothing, distinguishes between the royal candys dyed with true purple (halipórphyros) and the ordinary purple type (porphyroûs), adding that there is also a variety made of skins.

No details accompany mention of the candys in Themistius; Diodorus, 17.77.5; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 5.3; etc.; Arrian, Anabasis 2.11.5, 6; Lucian, etc., or in The Suda or the lexicon of Hesych, where the candys is interpreted as a “Persian coat (khitṓn), which the soldiers fasten with brooches”; whether it is really the candys that is meant in these references cannot be ascertained. A colored candys is mentioned in a catalogue of clothes dedicated to Artemis of Brauron (Attica) in the middle of the 4th century b.c. (Inscriptiones Graecae, 2nd ed., II/III, no. 1514.19).

The currently prevailing opinion is that the candys, together with the (Gk.) sárapis, a long-sleeved coat, and the (Gk.) anaxyrídes, long trousers, was part of the Median riding costume and that it should be identified with the full-length mantle slung over the shoulders, the long empty sleeves covering the hands, that is represented often in the Persepolis reliefs (see, e.g., E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis I, Chicago, 1953, pls. 51, 52, 57, 58, etc.; Bittner, figs. 22.1, 23, 24) and elsewhere. This identification is in full agreement with the description of Pollux (Onomasticon 7.58), who calls the candys “sleeved” (kheiridōtós) and “fastened along the shoulders” (katà toùs ṓmous enaptómenos). Sometimes the candys may have been edged with fur (probably beaver). Apparently it was worn only when the climate or weather was such that the tunic (called khitṓn by Xenophon) and the trousers were not warm enough.

O. Szemerényi (Gnomon 43, 1971, p. 672; The Journal of Hellenic Studies 94, 1974, p. 156; and Stud. Ir. 9, 1980, pp. 52f.) plausibly interprets Greek kandýtānes (plur.) “clothes-bag” (Menander, Sicyonius) as OIran. *kandu-dāna- “a holder/repository for kándys/cloaks” (thus already Pollux, Onomasticon 10.137).



For the Classical authors any current edition (Teubner, Oxford, Loeb, etc.) may be consulted. For The Suda, see A. Adler’s ed., Leipzig, 1928, 1938; repr. Stuttgart, 1967, 1971.

Studies: S. Bittner, Tracht and Bewaffnung des persischen Heeres zur Zeit der Achaemeniden, München, 1985, esp. pp. 188-92.

W. Hinz, Altiranische Funde and Forschungen, Berlin, 1969, pp. 72, 74 (cf. A. D. H. Bivar, BSOAS 33, 1970, p. 399ab).

G. Thompson, “Iranian Dress in the Achaemenian Period. Problems concern­ing the Kandys and other garments,” Iran 3, 1965, pp. 121-26.

G. Widengren, “Some Remarks on Rid­ing Costume and Articles of Dress among Iranian Peoples in Antiquity,” Arctica. Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensia 11, 1956, pp. 228-76, esp. pp. 235ff.

(Rüdiger Schmitt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

This article is available in print.
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