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There is this claim that the Academic Dress (shown below) is originally derived form Avicenna's style of clothing. I wonder if it's true.

Academic Dress Source
Academic dress (above), Avicenna (below)

Avicenna Source

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Robes of various sorts were part of the garb for members of the Church (that is, the Roman Catholic Church) during Europe's dark ages. And it was the Church that ran the educational institutions that eventually gave birth to modern colleges and universities in western Europe. So why postulate one particular source? –  dmckee May 15 '12 at 17:35
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Where did you hear this claim? Can you give us a source? Otherwise, it doesn't seem notable. –  Flimzy May 15 '12 at 18:27
    
Answers.com is not a notable claim. Google fails to find examples of the claim, let alone anything to back it up. The only significant hits are for this question, the answers.com question and the talk page of Wikipedia. I don't even see anything to indicate that Avicenna had a unique form of dress. –  DJClayworth May 15 '12 at 19:29
    
@DJClayworth I've added another sample of the claim. It's probably Arab-centric? –  Sklivvz May 15 '12 at 22:51
    
A talk page on Wikipedia (which I told you about) isn't notable either. –  DJClayworth May 16 '12 at 2:45
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Short answer: this is false.

Let's analyze this by looking at the claim.

  1. In order for this to be true, Avicenna would have to have a distinctive form of dress different from other people of the time. While this image does appear to show him in a two-layered robe and an unusual hat, other images of him show him in a much more standard robe and turban. Even other images of the same statue show that the hat looks much more like a turban. So Avicenna's dress wasn't noticeably different from other people, and his preferred headgear was a turban. Turbans were not used in either academic dress or medieval Christian religious dress.
  2. It is universally agreed that modern academic dress derives from Western clerical dress. The history of clerical garb does back at least to medieval times, probably to around the time of Avicenna. So for the Avicenna theory to be true, it would have to be true that medieval Christian religious dress was derived from the dress of a contemporary Islamic philosopher. This would seem to be extremely unlikely, and no evidence for it seems to exist.
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