Oh no! You’re the costume director for your semi-local Book of Mormon-themed pageant and you are in charge of producing costumes for a civilization that supposedly disappeared or degenerated into perpetual near-nudity a millennia-and-a-half ago! To add onto all of this, there are no known and widely recognized archaeological pointers to orient you, and no one has any idea what Nephites or Lamanite clothing could have possibly looked like! Well, have no fear. With this post, we will uncover secrets only known to Book of Mormon artists, so that you can have the most authentic Nephite costume of them all! In this post, we’ll focus primarily on Nephite clothing, and in the following post, we will discuss all other –ites.
There is one accessory alone that is commonly seen among all portrayals of Nephites, no matter the artist, making it one of the most defining items of the Nephite wardrobe. In order to introduce this accessory, we have to start with a little history. Lehi and his family left Jerusalem in about 600 B.C. and crossed an ocean to arrive somewhere in the Americas.
As you can see in this picture, while Lehi was a big fan of the Arafat-style sun hat, Nephi is quite obviously a fan of what I will dub the Incredibly Useless Headband. I established in my first Rational Faiths piece, Mormons and Mullets,, that Nephi had an immaculate Ape Drape.
A mullet, as observed in this picture, is rather short and cropped on top and long in back. Headbands are typically to keep a person’s hair out of their face. A mullet makes this object completely unnecessary. Therefore, we can credit Nephi for introducing what was the equivalent of the now prevalent waist belt into the Nephite culture.
Edit: My wife informed me that the waist belt creates a “slimming” effect. I guess Nephi was trying to slim down his own head.
The headband is seen on numerous occasions throughout Book of Mormon art, and it is often times equally as useless, if not more useless, than Nephi’s. Because it appears so frequently in church art, and I don’t have the time to look into each one, here is a small headband collage I made in Microsoft Paint.
These are only a few of the hundreds of headbands that appear throughout church art. I made sure to include only the most unnecessary headbands in this particular collage.
From all of these renditions we can ascertain that the headband was, perhaps, the equivalent of the white shirt and tie of our day. Why else would prophets don it so proudly? Why else would Nephites find it appropriate to wear in the presence of the Savior, Jesus Christ?
It almost seems like the more useless the headband, the more spiritual the individual. Take the Nephi from the book of Helaman, for example.
Apparently, wearing thin pieces of rope that hover above the temples and look like lobotomy scars from afar may have been the thing in his time. Maybe when he received the sealing power, it was given him in the form of a mystical, twine-thin headband, much like Captain Planet’s Planeteers and their rings. Either way, I hope to one day be worthy enough to don a headband.
Nephite fashion seems to be a mixed bag. Artists can’t seem to decide on what else Nephites could have worn. So, if you’d like to dress like a Nephite, it looks like you’re in luck, because you can wear anything-
a shower curtain,
a McDonald’s themed cape,
, a miniskirt,
scuba diving gear…
Really, put on anything. Just don’t forget your headband.