Handkerchief

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Linen handkerchief

A handkerchief /ˈhæŋkərɪf/, also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, usually made of thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse. It was invented for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or face, or blowing one's nose.

A handkerchief is also sometimes used as a purely decorative accessory in a suit pocket.

Modern usage[change | change source]

The material of a handkerchief can be symbolic of the social-economic class of the user. It is not only because some materials are more expensive, but because some materials are more absorbent and useful for those who use a handkerchief for more than style. Handkerchiefs can be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.

Origin[change | change source]

Before people used the word handkerchief, the word kerchief alone was common. This term came from two French words: couvrir, which means “to cover,” and chef, which means “head.”

In the time of ancient Greece and Rome, handkerchiefs were often used the way they are today. But in the Middle Ages, kerchiefs were usually used to cover the head.

Uses[change | change source]

  • The Presidential, perhaps the simplest, is folded at right angles to fit in the pocket.
  • The Westo Four Point fold, the quickest way to achieve a four point fold effect.
  • The TV Fold looks similar but is folded diagonally with the point inside the pocket.
  • The One-point Fold is folded diagonally with the point showing.
  • The Two-point Fold is folded off-center so the two points do not completely overlap.
  • The Three-point Fold is first folded into a triangle, then the corners are folded up and across to make three points.
  • The Four-point Fold is an off-center version of the Three-point Fold.
  • The Cagney is basically a backwards version of the Four-point Fold.
  • The Puff or the Cooper is simply shaped into a round puff.
  • The Reverse Puff is like the Puff, except with the puff inside and the points out, like petals.
  • The Astaire is a puff with a point on either side.
  • The Straight Shell is pleated and then folded over to give the appearance of nested shells.
  • The Diagonal Shell is pleated diagonally and then folded.

Gallery[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Handkerchief at Wikimedia Commons