Tuesday, November 24, 2009


15th - 17th century laced handkerchief

Among the classical heritage rediscovered during the Renaissance was the handkerchief. It had been used by the Roman, who ordinarily wore two handkerchiefs (sudarium): one on the left wrist and one tucked in at the waist or around the neck. In the fifteenth century, the handkerchief was for a time allowed only to the nobility; special laws were made to enforce this.

A Roman emperor wearing sudarium on his neck


Ramon said...

Have you seen the movie, Spartacus? In the movie, the Roman praetor (not sure of the spelling) dropped a handkerchief to signal the start of the game.

Bay Martin said...

Yes, I have it several times.

And the handkerchief was waved by spectators as a sign of approval. In the Middle Ages it was a prized possession and was conspicuously displayed by the wealthy. It was worn by knights in tournament as the symbol of a lady's favor. It came into general use in the Renaissance and was called a napkyn. Silk, cambric, and lawn, lavishly embroidered or laced, became fashionable for both men and women. Shapes were also varied.

Today the handkerchief is more practical than decorative.

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