Wimple

Wimple

[wim-puhl]

The wimple is a garment of mediaeval Europe worn by women. It is a cloth which usually covers the head and is worn around the neck and chin. At many stages of medieval culture it was unseemly for a married woman to show her hair. A wimple might be elaborately starched, and creased and folded in prescribed ways, even supported on wire or wicker framing (cornette). Italian women abandoned their headcloths in the 15th century, or replaced them with transparent gauze, and showed their elaborate braids. Both elaborate laundry and elaborate braiding demonstrated status, in that such grooming was being performed by others. Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales has the Wife of Bath and also the Prioress depicted wearing them. Today the wimple is worn by some nuns who still don the traditional habit. The women who wore wimples were actually observing the following passage in 1 Corinthians 11:5 in the New Testament: "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." The King James Version explicitly lists "wimples" in Isaiah 3:22 as one of a list of female fineries, although the Hebrew term is rendered as shawl or cloak in other versions.

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