Long sleeves served as gloves and mittens for
many nations. They warmed hands and were in use
when people needed to take or bring hot pots.
Such kinds of sleeves remained to the beginning
of the 20-th century. For a very long time the
gloves were known as protection of the hands and
decoration. The history counts a lot of interesting
cases and traditions connected with gloves, so
it gives some symbolism to this accessory.
Firstly, gloves were not
a part of decorum but means of simple usage. They
were made of various cheap materials and were
used by shepherds, peasants and soldiers of different
times. The gloves began to symbolize a status
of their owner with the appearance of social classes.
The history has a lot of
facts of using the gloves in ancient times. They
were popular and served as a protection of the
hands in Old Egypt. The Pharaohs wore them as
s symbol of their high position and women wore
them to protect the beauty of their hands (they
rub their hands with honey and fragrant oils and
put on thin silk gloves). In those times the gloves
were made as small pockets without holes for fingers.
Then they were made only with one thumb (as today's
mittens). Egyptian women used these mittens to
protect hands while eating or working.
There was a tradition to
eat in gloves even in the Middle Ages. There were
special thimbles from thin good fabric. They put
them only on the fingers.
The gloves were means of
protection at work in the Antique World. Shepherds
and peasants wore them while working with thorny
or spiny grass.
The Romans put on the gloves
while eating. These gloves were made from linen
and silk. It was safe to take hot meat because
the Romans did not use forks in those times. Such
kind of gloves was called «Digitalia» and they
were also used for cooking.
The gloves without fingers
were worn in the Middle Ages. These gloves were
leather with cotton lining or they were mittens
from iron rings for hunting.
The gloves became an accessory
of the first rate and meaning in women's clothes
since the 12-th century. They were decorated with
colorful embroider, jewelry and pearls. Women
splashed them with perfumes.
The gloves were not only
decoration, but a symbol of chic and elegance,
a symbol of differentiation and power in the Middle
Ages. The gloves of the kings and a high priesthood
were richly decorated with gold, silver, pearls
and jewelry. Simple people wore gloves from deer
and calf-skin or sheepskin.
The gloves became a part
of liturgical decoration at the Catholic Church
in the 11-th century. The bishops wore gloves
knitted with golden thread. The priests of lower
position wore only white gloves which symbolized
The gloves were so important
and in the Middle Ages, so that they became a
symbol of dignity and honor. All ceremonies were
followed with transmission of a glove.
The gloves had a symbolic
meaning in the knight's circle. The handing of
a glove meant that the knight became a vassal
of a person who had given him a glove. If a glove
was thrown under feet it meant a duel. The expression
«challenge to a duel» was used till the end of
the 18-th century. But receiving a glove from
a woman had a different meaning. It was a symbol
of a great benevolence and favor. The knight wore
this symbol on his neck in a special bag and never
left it.The Lombardians gave a glove and a sword
to their fiancees as a symbol of faithfulness
during a marriage ceremony.
The gloves appeared in Germany
and Scandinavian countries in the 13-14-th cent.
In the 17-th century knitted pants appeared and
knitting machine was invented, so knitted gloves
were in a wide use.
French masters were leaders
on the gloves market at the beginning of the 17-th
century to the end of the 18-th century.
The French masters opened
of their technological secrets to the whole Europe
under the influence of Napoleon.
By the end of the 17-th century
the gloves were necessary with clothes. Silk,
thin leather, lace, pearls, jewelry and golden
buttons were used to make the gloves.
The technology of producing
gloves became unbelievably complicated.
For example, in the 18-th
century it was very difficult to order beautiful
gloves. The leather was bought in Spain, cutting-out
was made in France, sewing and decoration were
made in England.
Men's gloves were always
short but the length of the women's gloves depended
on the length of the sleeves.
In the 19-th century the
rules for ideal gentlemen were formulated. According
to these rules a real gentlemen had to change
his gloves six times a day.
In 1807 an Englishman James
Winter invented a machine for sewing gloves. The
rubber gloves were patented.
In the beginning of the 19-th
century Russia began to produce kid-skin; it's
very mild and soft leather. The gloves that were
made from it were thin, elastic and glimmering.
By the middle of the19-th
century the gloves were made by hand.
Then a special machine for
pressing the edges of the production was invented.
These edges were held tightly and firmly and were
unnoticeable. It was difficult to put on true
kid-gloves. So, they put them on at home. The
rules of etiquette demanded to were gloves in
In the 20-th century the industry
of gloves production was dramatically changed.
It was caused by sharp social changes, especially
for the last 30 years. That's why this field of
production was on the edge of dying.
The gloves were a symbol
of elegance and a symbol of a true lady, who wore
the gloves, a hat and pants the whole year. Sunburned
hands meant belonging to a working class in 1930-s
years. The top of it was in 1968. This accessory
was recognition of a bourgeois symbol, a symbol
of official relations, riches and hypocrisy.
The gloves industry faced
with a deep crisis in the days of triumph of simple
clothes and jeans.
At the beginning of the 80-s
the revival of true gloves began and they returned
to the shop-windows as an important accessory
of fashion industry.