The scarf. Also known as the Kremer, neck-wrap and muffler, apparently. Muffler? Is that what gangsters call them? They’re an item of clothing worn around the neck for cleanliness, fashion, for religious reasons, and to keep warm. Our old friends, the Romans, invented the scarf, naming their invention ‘sudarium’, Latin for ‘sweat cloth’, because, originally, they were worn as a handy cloth to wipe the sweat off one’s brow. The Romans then realised the scarf was a rather useful tool in keeping one’s neck warm whilst they were butchering their way across Europe. You know, as you do. “Sir, the cold is getting to us.” “And?” “We should stop our invasion.” “Nah, just use the scarf…”
In 1648, the Croatian army wore scarves to celebrate their victory over the Turks, as they marched on Paris. I think most people would’ve celebrated with a nice chocolate cake, but scarves, yeah, why not? What they wore closely resembled the cravat. Indeed, the word ‘cravat’ comes from the French word cravate, meaning ‘Croat’ (their name for a Croatian). Louis XIV of France loved this cravat so much he hired a scarf maker, his thinking being that scarves should be the preserve of royalty. As the years tumbled by, the designs for the cravat had become so different that a new word was invented for the most popular type. The scarf.
They were originally made of cloth, but in 17th century China, they started to be made of silk. It was at the start of the 20th century when wool scarves became all the rage. It became one of the most essential and versatile items of clothing. Even pilots back then wore scarves to keep oily smoke from the exhaust out of their mouths and to prevent neck chafing. Some military crews still do this today, although more as a sense of pride and tradition, a connection to their past.
But scarves didn’t manage to shake their connection with royalty. Scarves are sometimes worn to show one’s political persuasion, something we see today as various leaders, especially in Britain, wear a tie coloured in their party’s colours. But they are used everywhere. From the world of politics to the world of the office, from the army to the Scouts. And they are a big part of the British school uniforms, often displaying the school colours, usually with diagonal lines. Yes, we do have school colours. It doesn’t really help to shake the upper class, noble, aristocratic world the Americans still think we all live in. Sigh.
And scarves have even become a part of popular culture. We regularly see them at sporting events and one very special Doctor Who was famous for his long, long scarf.
But the history of the scarf isn’t all rosy. It’s even been used as a murder weapon. Peter the Great created a Russian army and wanted their uniform to be individual. So he adorned his troops with scarves, a touch that remained popular for a very long time. But when Pavel I became emperor of Russia, he hated this touch and forbade the soldiers from wearing their scarves. Such a move proved most unpopular. In an ironic twist of fate, Pavel was strangled to death in 1801. With a scarf. Some would say that this proved that his dislike of scarves was justified…
I don’t wear scarves, I’ve never seen the point, really. But they are fascinating. Drenched in a rich and illustrious history. That history is the point of scarves. I might not ‘get’ them, but they are not without merit. They even made a movie about scarves. Scarf Ace.
I’ll see myself out…
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the ‘Archives’ page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:
The Indelible Life of Me
New Post Every Saturday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post
Hark Around the Words
New Posts Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post