Monday, May 11, 2009
What I like about ... handkerchiefs
Today, I'm posting a wonderful contribution by my good friend, Teng. She collects handkerchiefs and makes paper (origami) dolls. We will ask her to talk about her dolls another time. All the photos are from her collection. Aren't they pretty?
What I like about handkerchiefs
"They’re small, square pieces of cloth. They’re thin and, when folded, could fit into a pocket or a small purse. They’re used for wiping. What are they? They’re handkerchiefs!
Wrong! Except for the “cloth” part, the description could fit that of a tissue paper and doesn’t do justice to a handkerchief. True, some tissue papers have designs like hankies, but you throw used tissue paper away. You don’t do that to a hanky. Especially one that you’ve carefully selected or made, or had been given, and have kept all these years.
Why do I like hankies? One is their obvious function - wiping off anything wet. You use a hanky to wipe off tears (of sadness or happiness), sweat, left-off water after washing, left-over milk on a child’s mouth, etc, etc. Who cares what you wipe? You can wash the hanky afterwards and it’s good as new!
Second, hankies are works of art. Their designs are limitless – flowers, plants, animals, people, sceneries, ribbons, shoes, purses, stamps, flags, ships, etc, etc. Their colors are beautiful, their texture fine and soft. The combination of cloth with lace, embroidery, beading, paint, etc could astound you.
Third, you can do wonders with hankies, transforming them into other works of art. Using the paper-folding art of origami, hankies can also be folded and twisted into birds, flowers, dolls, etc and displayed. Visit the hankies department of any Japanese department store and you’ll see what I mean.
Fourth, you can wrap a small gift with a hanky. And the hanky ends up as part of the gift!
Fifth, they make very nice, inexpensive gifts (although, if you gift it to a Thai, he/she has to “pay” you a small amount, to counteract the “tears” associated with hankies). And you won’t need a big box or a large wrapping paper to wrap them in, so that’s another plus in the expense area.
Sixth, there is something to learn when you look at handkerchiefs. How the Japanese traditional attire looks like. Who Fendi, Celine, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Lehrer, etc are and whether you can recognize their creation, without looking first at the signature/label on one end of the hanky. How places in other countries look like.
I have collected hankies since the 60s, so you can imagine the volume of my collection. My children had even commented that I should establish a hankies museum! Well, why not? Their beauty then would be shared instead of being just kept in boxes!"