A towel is a piece of absorbent fabric used for drying or wiping the body. It draws moisture through direct contact, often using a rubbing motion. In households, several types of fabric towels are used, including :
- hand towels (small towels placed by a sink for drying the hands),
- bath towels (large towels for drying the hair and body after a bath or shower) and
- kitchen towels, which are used for drying dishes.
In warm climates, people may also use beach towels, which are large towels used for drying off after swimming and for placing on beach surfaces. Common household textile towels are made from cotton, rayon, bamboo, non-woven fibers, and a few other materials.
History of Turkish Towels
It was a very important part of Turkish social life and continues to be so, but originally it was meant for ceremonial bath for a bride before her wedding and for important occasions later in life. The Turkish `hamams` too have an undeniable relationship with these towels. For a complete set of towels were available and is still available which consisted of different towels for the shoulder, hips and head. This elaborate arrangement was made keeping the special Turkish baths in mind. 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). 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. 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’. Towels didn’t 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. Today, the city of Denizli has become the Towel Capital of the World.
Now, towels are available in a variety of sizes, materials and designs.
- A bath towel is used for drying the body when it is wet, such as after bathing or showering. It is typically rectangular, with a typical size around 30 in × 60 in (76 cm × 152 cm).
- A beach towel is usually a little bit larger a bath towel. Although it is often used for drying off after being in the water, its chief purpose is to provide a surface to lie on. They are also worn for privacy while changing clothes in a public area, and for wiping sand from the body or objects. Beach towels often have colorful patterns.
- A foot towel is a small, rectangular towel which, in the absence of a rug, carpet or bathroom mat, is placed on the bathroom floor to stand on after finishing a shower or bath.
- A hand towel is significantly smaller than a bath towel (perhaps 12 in × 24 in (30 cm × 61 cm)), and is used for drying the hands after washing them.
- A show towel is a bath or hand towel that has had trim—such as satin, lace or linen stitched onto it, or embroidery done on it—mainly to simply “look nice”.They are used to add a decorative touch—usually to a bathroom—most commonly in the USA. They are generally not to be used to for drying, as regular washing ruins the added trim, and the towel buckles as well (because the towel usually shrinks differently than the trim).
- The term kitchen towel can refer to either a dish towel or to a paper towel, the latter usage being primarily British