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In classical Greece pieces of fine perfumed cotton, known as mouth or perspiration cloths, were often used by the wealthy. From the 1st cent. B.C., Roman men of rank used an oblong cloth of linen (the sudarium) chiefly to wipe perspiration from the face and hands. During the empire a square handkerchief of cotton or silk was carried, especially by women. The handkerchief was dropped by the praetors as a starting signal in the Roman games and 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. Disposable paper handkerchiefs are used for all but very formal occasions. The handkerchief carried in the left hand of the officiating priest in the early Christian church evolved into a folded band that by the 12th cent. had become the maniple, worn on the left arm.
References in periodicals archive ?
He has pathos; but it is a manly pathos, reserved and self-contained, with no snivelling in it, and no display of white pocket-handkerchief.
A three-bed semi, with a garden the size of a pocket-handkerchief, and four concrete slabs for a patio is about all you can expect for pounds 150,000 - not enough, you might think, to maintain the tradition of creativity for which gardeners have been renowned for centuries.
A pocket-handkerchief, unpretentious garden with fairy lights, a Dimmock and an optical deceit.
If you own anything larger than a tiny pocket-handkerchief lawn, you can quickly be buried under heaps of mown grass.
Ornate gazebos and pergolas somehow seem quite out of place in the pocket-handkerchief size gardens of 21st century Britain.
The man was busy untying the red pocket-handkerchief.
Pocket-handkerchief size patios are no use to man or plants, very quickly becoming congested with containers, garden furniture and people.
The crashing waves in Coomb near Manobier seem dangerous and menacing until you glimpse the pocket-handkerchief of sunshine out to sea, signifying hope on the horizon.
Some of the men were even sporting jaunty three-piece suits with colourful pocket-handkerchiefs.
Three cotton dresses, one pair of stays, four petticoats, sixteen chemises, two flannel petticoats, twelve pairs of cotton stockings, six night dresses and caps, six pocket-handkerchiefs, four handkerchiefs for the neck, six caps, two bonnets, cloak and shawl, one pair of boots, two pairs of shoes and a comb and brush.