The first handbag to show up in written word was in the fourteenth century, but since the beginning of time people have needed something to carry their things in including Egyptians who have pouches attached to them in ancient hieroglyphics. Pictures from the Medieval period showed both women and men wearing a girdle that was like a large belt gathered about the waist and you would see a bag attached to it and hanging down. This ancient handbags were often ornate with embroidery or had sparkling jewels attached to them. They did not use them just to carry possessions but also for carrying food for their falcons, a popular pet of the era or they would hold supplies they needed for playing certain games. The Seals Bag was carried by the Lord Chancellor and it held relics of the church that were used during the mass.
The Fashion Of Handbags Through Time
Handbags became much more practical during the 16th century and were made of either fabric or leather and had a drawstring that would enable them to be opened or shut. Travelers would wear large bags made of fabric that slipped diagonally over the shoulder. In the 17th century, women would create beautiful samplers of their abilities in embroidery and this transferred to some of their purses to let gentlemen know she had these skills and would make an excellent wife.
- During this era, both men and women carried small purses when out in public. Because Elizabethan clothing was rather voluminous prestigious women wore bags under their skirts and men had leather pouches that were kept inside their breeches. Often times personal hygiene was not of importance in many countries and people of high station carried bags that were made of fabric and filled with sweet-smelling herbs and flowers.