Origins of ordinary things: A Scarf

When it is bitingly cold outside, it’s good to have a scarf on hand because wrapping it around the neck provides an extra layer of warmth.

Scarves have been in existence for a long time. According to Rampley&Co a clothing company, Queen Nefertiti of Egypt is said to have wrapped her head with a scarf around 350 BC. Army soldiers in the ancient Chinese Empire were using designs on scarves in 230 BC to show rank.

According to CR a fashion magazine, Romans in 10 AD used the strip of clothing to keep cool and to dry off their sweat. They called it a sudarium which is Latin for “sweat cloth.”

In the 13th century, Egyptians tied scarf-like belts around their hips when they adopted a dance in which women would wind their waists. Today that type of movement is known as the belly dance. This is according to Freedom Child, a cashmere scarf store.

In the early 18th century, the French used colors of scarves to demonstrate political siding. When French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gifted his first wife Josephine de Beauharnais with cashmere scarfs from India in 1786, scarves became a symbol of luxury and nobility for women. This is according to Startup Fashion, a business resource for fashion designers.

When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne of England in the early 19th century, she continued to popularize scarves in women of the noble class because she frequently accessorized with one.

According to Wikipedia an encyclopedia, the first time scarves became available to women from lower classes was when rayon was invented in the early 20th century and made the production of low cost scarves possible. The 20th century was filled with many wars, including World War I and World War II. During this time, scarves became a necessity to keep soldiers warm.

Scarves now serve many functions. They are, for the most part, tied on the neck or draped over shoulders but not always for warmth. They are used as fashionable accessories especially for career women such as air hostesses. They are worn by students on graduation day. They are used as dance costumes. They are worn as head gears to protect hair from harsh weather conditions or to avoid hair getting caught in objects if, for instance someone works in a factory.

With their various uses, it’s a good thing that scarves no longer cost an arm and a leg and they come in varieties of materials, shapes and colours.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com