The Art of Darkness

Mourning Handkerchiefs

January 28th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Mourning HandkerchiefYou gotta give it to the Victorians: When it came to death, they did not believe in half measures. There were strict rules about proper mourning attire, and one essential accessory was the mourning handkerchief.

The handkerchiefs were traditionally white, trimmed with a black border; the border width varied depending upon how long one had been in mourning. (There were rules about that, too. The customary mourning period of a widow for her husband, for instance, was a total of 2 1/2 years: First Mourning, 1 year and 1 day in bombazine and heavy crape; Second Mourning, 9 months with less crape; Ordinary Mourning, 3 months in black silk; and Half Mourning, a minimum of 6 months where “half mourning colors” like grey and purple were allowed, and a greater variety of fabric and trim was permitted.) A proper handkerchief would sport a heavy black band during First Mourning, after which narrower bands could be used.

As with most customs, eventually there were embellishments. The handkerchiefs might be made of delicate lace or feature embroidery and fancy fabric.

These are a perfect small craft project, whether or not you have any actual funerals to attend. (Although if you do, a pretty hanky decorated in a motif that was meaningful to the deceased would be a thoughtful gift; either for for a mourning loved one or as a keepsake for yourself.)

Handkerchiefs are easy to make–there are good instructions here and here–but you can also start with a premade handkerchief and add lace, ribbon, or embroidery. Tutorials for all of these techniques are just a quick google away.

It’s always a good idea to have a hanky on hand, and one with gothy overtones is even better.

(Hat tip to xJane)

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Bruno Says:


  2. Pixel Pixie Says:

    I had some hankies custom-made a few years ago: black cats in pumpkins, hearses, spider webs, etc. I always carry at least one with me, and I have enough that I can throw them in the hamper as soon they become snotty and have another ready to go.

  3. Janicemars Says:

    Just what I’ve been looking
    For! Thanks.

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