A stack of colored bath towels
A stack of colored bath towels

A towel is a piece of absorbent fabric or paper used for drying or wiping a body or a surface. It draws moisture through direct contact.

In households, several types of fabric towels are used, including hand towels, bath towels, and kitchen towels. At the beach, people use beach towels.

Paper towels are provided in commercial or office bathrooms via a dispenser for users to dry their hands. In households they are used for minor, precision, or particularly dirty jobs of wiping, cleaning, and drying.[1]

History

According to Middle Ages archaeological studies, "... closely held personal items included the ever present knife and a towel."[2] However, the invention of the towel is commonly associated with the city of Bursa, Turkey, in the 17th century. These Turkish towels began as a flat, woven piece of cotton or linen called a pestamel, often hand-embroidered. Long enough to wrap around the body, pestamel were originally fairly narrow, but are now wider and commonly measure 90 by 170 centimetres (35 in × 67 in).[3] Pestamel were used in Turkish baths as they stayed light when wet and were very absorbent.

As the Ottoman Empire grew, so did the use of the towel. Weavers were asked to embroider more elaborate designs, aided by their knowledge of carpet-weaving.[4] By the 18th century, towels began to feature loops sticking up from the pile of the material. These looped towels became known as havly; over time, this word has changed to havlu, the Turkish word for towel, and means ‘with loops’.[5] Towels did not become affordable until the 19th century, with the cotton trade and industrialization. With mechanization, cotton terry-towelling became available by the yard as well as being stocked in shops as pre-made towels.[6]

Today towels are available in a variety of sizes, materials and designs. Some hotels which provide towels and bath robes embed washable RFID tags into their linens to deter theft.[7]

Types

A hand-made African towel
A hand-made African towel
Close-up photo of a bath towel, made of terrycloth, showing the absorbing fibres, along with a decorative pattern
Close-up photo of a bath towel, made of terrycloth, showing the absorbing fibres, along with a decorative pattern
A beach towel
A beach towel
Fibres in a tea towel
Fibres in a tea towel
Tunisian fouta towel
Tunisian fouta towel

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Best Bath Towel". Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World.
  2. ^ Hatcler, Margret. Family Ties that Bind, Middle Ages Family Life. Oxford University Press, 1968, p. 112.
  3. ^ "History of the Towel". Jeniffer's Hamam. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  4. ^ "History of Turkish Towels". Turkey For You. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  5. ^ "A Brief History Of Towels". Lid Time. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Bath Towel". Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  7. ^ "New Washable RFID Chips Track Hotel Towels and Bathrobes". PopSci. PopSci. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  8. ^ "The (American) National Gallery of Art". Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Like elaborately decorated pottery and Jacquard coverlets, "show towels" were made primarily for display rather than for use.
  9. ^ Celsias Archived 2013-01-18 at archive.today Retrieved on 31 Oct 09
  10. ^ "Western News". Communications.uwo.ca. 2004-11-24. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  11. ^ D Le, A J Macnab (2009-10-26). "Self strangulation by hanging from cloth towel dispensers in Canadian schools". Injuryprevention.bmj.com. Retrieved 2010-11-18.
  12. ^ "Fingertip Towel". www.thetowelshop.co.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  13. ^ Roberts, Tom. "Unique Towel Types You May Not Know About". Duncan Stewart Textiles. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Our Story".

Media related to Towels at Wikimedia Commons