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veil one of the most ancient articles of feminine dress which has been associated over the ages with elegance, modesty, humility, subservience, marriage and death and has represented a specific significance in dif- ferent world religions. In ancient times veils were made of linen, cotton, silk, even wool but, as it became possible to weave very fine, semi- transparent materials, these were quickly adopted for long, flowing veils. Other styles were stiffened and wired to stand out in wing-like shapes. In the East the Yes had traditionally represented humility and subservience. With the coming of the Moslem religion, women were expected to cover their heads and part of their faces with its folds when out-of-doors. As time passed, in countries of the Middle East, in Turkey and Persia especially, rules made by man, rather than Mahomet, became stricter and only the eyes were permitted to be uncovered and even these peered through a mesh window (see ChCidar etc. and Turkish dress). In Europe the veil, made in varied sizes, materials and colours, was worn by the ancient Greeks, Romans, under Byzantine rule and throughout the Middle Ages. In early times it was simply a piece of material, large or small, which was held in place by a fillet or ribbon encircling the brow or by being pinned to the hair. In the later Middle Ages, from the fourteenth century onwards, the veil accompanied the head- dress, being draped round it, over it or simply flowing down the back. It was especially fashionable in the fifteenth century when it was worn with turbans, cauls, horned and steeple head-dresses. Sometimes it was long and flowing, some- times wired into butterfly wings. With the hood designs of head-dress of the sixteenth century the veil went out of fashion but returned for a brief period in the years 1580-1610 in the form of two wired, circular wings, one worn on each side of the back of the head; these were filled with white gauze or silk and edged with pearls or jewels. Accompanying these was a white transparent veil which draped over the shoulders and fell to the ground at the back. The veil disappeared from fashionable dress once more in the early seventeenth century and returned only in the nine- teenth century when short, decorative veils were attached to or draped over bonnets and hats. They were particularly modish in the years 1795-1830 and in the 1890s. In the former period the veils generally hung free, in the latter, spotted and patterned veils enclosed the face and were tied under the chin or at the back of the neck. Short veils continued to be attached to hats until the Second World War. Veils have continued to be an important part of peasant and national dress until recent times as well as in bridal and mourning wear (see Mourning dress and Wedding dress). They were also worn during the nineteenth century for riding (see Riding dress) and at the turn of the century for motoring (see Motoring wear).

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2006 March 28