Why handkerchiefs from round and triangular turned into square

A handkerchief is a modest, but very necessary accessory, and with a long history. From its inception to our time, it has been used both for its intended purpose and for completely different, sometimes unexpected purposes. So, the ladies used it as a short message to the gentlemen, with the help of him they welcomed the actors in the theater, kept the memory of the owner, etc. But not everyone knows that the scarf was not always square ...

What were the first handkerchiefs

In the literature, mention of the familiar accessory as a means of personal hygiene was found in the III century! They were very different from today.


The very first of them began to be made in Assyria from the finest parchment . In China, the first products were also paper - based on rice paper .

Reference. Fabric handkerchiefs are also of considerable age. They began to be made in Byzantium in the 8th century.


Used accessories then in different ways. Spectators waved them from the stands during performances, also with the help of him people expressed their will or protest .

Important! At the Byzantine court, only ladies of royal blood could wear scarves, since this accessory was considered a symbol of honor and nobility. Usually they were fixed on the left shoulder or elbow.

In the Middle Ages they decorated the spear of a knight . Ladies attached them, blessing their beloved to victory. Even then, the products were decorated with embroidery or fringe.

But the heyday of fashion for handkerchiefs begins in the Renaissance. During this period, the accessory is included in the list of the dowry of the bride . Ladies often held it in their hands to attract attention, gentlemen. Such products were real luxury, they could afford only wealthy ladies .

Why does a medieval lady need 2 scarves at once?

At the French court in the 16th century, these napkins were used to wipe away tears, as well as to blow your nose. We sewed several options at once - beautiful and more modest .

The first option was richly decorated with lace and embroidery. The second option was a regular piece of cloth, was used for its intended purpose and was not exhibited.

At one time, it was customary to use this product when washing hands . Wet fingertips were rubbed.

Later, the accessory quickly became fashionable as a decorative addition to the costume, giving a twist and emphasizing the status of the owner.

How a handkerchief became square

We already said that accessories began to be used for a very long time. Their form would surprise us today.

Initial form

If the sizes of the first handkerchiefs were approximately equivalent to modern ones, then their shape could be different: round, triangular, rectangular . Square also met, but much less frequently.

Reference. Regardless of shape, the fabric was richly decorated with lace and embroidery.

What caused the changes

Why did this accessory become square? This happened in the 18th century on the orders of King Louis XIV.

Reference. The complaint caused a change in shape. The court tailors began to complain about the uneconomical consumption of fabric when cutting round and triangular scarves.

The remaining trimmings were no longer suitable for sewing, as they were too small.

The king, without thinking twice, issued a decree that the length of the napkin should be equal to its width . This order extended to the whole kingdom. And then this form became familiar and relevant for neighboring countries. Since then, the small square accessory has not changed.

Modern handkerchiefs

Nowadays, a fabric napkin is used less often, because there is a more practical alternative to paper.

However, disposable wipes could not completely displace traditional fabric products from our everyday life. Modern products are made from cambric, cotton, chintz, and a special garter plaid.

Keeping a square shape, they have a smooth or embroidered curly edge. On sale you can find products with different funny inscriptions that raise the spirits. Or baby shawls with funny patterns. And people of the older generation (usually men) still use classic handkerchiefs in a cage.

Changing the shape of the accessory no longer occurs to anyone!