A handkerchief also called a handkercher or hanky, is a form of a kerchief, typically a hemmed square and made from thin fabric that can be carried in the pocket or purse. It is intended 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.
- The material of a handkerchief can be symbolic of the socio-economic class of the user, not only because some materials are more expensive, but because some materials are more absorbent and practical for those who use a handkerchief for more than style.
- Handkerchiefs can be made of cotton, cotton-synthetic blend, synthetic fabric, silk, or linen.
Handkerchiefs were also used, especially by children, as an impromptu way to carry around small items when a bag or basket was unavailable. They could also serve as a substitute for a bandage over a small injury.
In the United Kingdom, the habit of wearing a handkerchief with tied corners on one’s head at the beach has become a seaside postcard stereotype, referenced by the Gumby characters in Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
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