History of Napkin Folding

Topics: Ancient Rome, Roman Empire, Napkin Pages: 4 (1203 words) Published: November 3, 2012
History of Napkin
Napkins have been in used from the times of ancient Roman Empire and prior to them, in ancient Greece. References to word napkin dates back to 1384 AD. Spartans from ancient Greece (around 4th century BC)are known to have used bread slices made from a lump of dough as napkins to wipe their hands and it is possible that they ate these bread napkins after use. The ancient Romans (first to 5th century AD) are known to have used cloth napkins (called Mappa) to protect from food spill and wipe mouth. The guests brought their own napkins and carried away left-over delicacies in their Mappa. With the fall of Roman Empire, napkins disappeared from the dining table. Napkins returned to adorn the dining table many centuries later and the classic painting Last Supper from 1464-1467 AD by Dieric Bouts depicts the use of Napkins on the dinner table. By 16th century, napkins were part of rich dining experience and came in many sizes, known by various names like diaper, serviette, touaille (for towel) depending on the size and intended use. 17th century saw the use of big sized napkins measuring 35inches by 45 inches to help accommodate the needs of eating with bare hands instead of spoon/forks. The size reduced when forks and spoons were accepted as part of regular dining experience in major parts of Europe in the 18th century including Great Britain. The 17th century also saw French come up with elaborate rules for nobility class which included instructions on napkin usage, a predecessor to modern day napkin etiquette, including the one which instructs the guests to not use the napkin for wiping the face or clean teeth or worse, rub nose. Asians – Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Indians have not been using napkins during the meal. While Indians are known to use bare hands for meal and rely on water to wash their hands before and after each meal, Chinese and Japanese use those magical chopsticks which seem to pick up everything they eat, keeping their hands...
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