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Gloves Through History

Adapted from: Fashion Times

Gloves played a substantial role in the conduct of human affairs and social interactions beyond keeping one’s hands warm and protected since ancient societies. Early Egyptian Pyramids contained hand covers without fingers. The tomb of Tutankhamen had the remains of decorated gloves.

Falconry, from De Arte Venandi cum Avibus, (On The Art of Hunting with Birds) , 1240 AC

Leather gloves were popular in the 1100s. Sturdy leather gloves were worn by laborers, falconers, and knights, whereas fashion gloves were crafted of fine leathers such as doeskin and lamb. Scented gloves were developed in the 1500s. Chicken skin gloves were worn at night to keep hands soft and white. Fabric gloves crafted from silk, satin, velvet, cotton, and linen were stylish in the 1500s.

 

Gloves had a variety of symbolic uses. The delivery of a glove to a monarch at an inauguration ceremony symbolized recognition of the new authority. Nobles received a glove when knighted.  Bishop status was granted by the delivery of a glove as well.  On the same token, Knights conveyed defiance or launched a challenge by casting down their war-gloves (gauntlet).

Gloves were used as messages of good will between sovereigns and dignitaries. They were sent to wish a person well, to congratulate them, or to console them. Gloves were also used for binding a bargain or as a bribe.

Gloves were a token of love.  They served a knight as an everlasting reminder of his love, inducing him to courage, loyalty and constancy while away. It also served as a charm against evil during conflict.

Today, gloves are practical articles that warm and protect our hands. People continue the tradition of wearing gloves at funerals, weddings, state functions, formal events, and the opera,  as gloves maintain their symbolic value and fashion statements.

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