You use towels every day and then forget them for the rest of the day unless you have to take another bath or freshen up. But have you ever spent a moment wondering about the story of the towels that you use every day? How did they even come into existence, and what is their history?
According to many historians, towels were invented in Turkey and were created from linen or cotton. However, they were only used during the ceremonial bathing of future brides in Turkish Hammams. Indeed, Hammams played a crucial role in the creation of towels. In addition to towels, flat entwined sheets were also used to dry the body at that time. Towels with flat designs were quite advantageous in the Hammams as they were light and dried out quickly. To begin with, these towels were narrow. Over the years, however, weavers started to make them broader.
The Impact of the Ottoman Empire
As the Ottoman Empire expanded, the demand for towels started to increase. The towel-makers were under pressure to create unique and decorative designs as women in Ottoman palaces began to demand ever-more ostentatious designs. If not for the Ottomans, the towel designs would not have been revolutionized. They had exceptional weaving skills and introduced new styles, colors, and sophistication in the art of towel making. In the 18th century, weavers had begun to make towels with loops called “havly”, and they continued to improvise.
In the present day, modern towel makers are taking a new interest in the old techniques of towel making by hand, which were the main part of the Turkish towel legacy. Handlooms are once again being salvaged from the junkyards where they were disposed of earlier. They are being repaired to be put back into use. Famous weavers are once again gravitating toward handmade techniques of towel making, and they are quickly becoming a part of luxury items.