A handkerchief or hanky is a square of fabric, usually carried in the pocket, for personal hygiene purposes such as wiping one's hands or blowing one's nose, but also used as a decorative accessory in a suit pocket. Richard II of England is said to have invented the handkerchief.
Historically, white handkerchiefs have been used in place of a white flag to indicate surrender or a flag of truce.
Use of handkerchief instead of facial tissue paper is often seen as old-fashioned and, especially in North America, unhygienic. On the other hand, some see it as a more environment-conscious choice. In Japan and Sri Lanka, carrying or using a handkerchief is considered to be well-educated.
A constant debate rages as to whether a handkerchief is softer than a tissue on the nose. Depending on which tissue (those with lotion being the softest, but able to stimulate some allergies depending on the lotion) and which handkerchief (much-washed cotton ones being the softest) are used, results can go either way.
A story goes that the Kleenex company hadn't initially imagined that people would want a disposable handkerchief, so they initially marketed their product exclusively as a make-up removal tool. It was only later after they discovered that people were blowing their noses into the tissue that they began marketing it for this purpose.
A bandana is a larger type of handkerchief often printed in a vibrant color and with a paisley pattern. Bandanas are most often used to hold hair back or to identify gang affiliation or used as a fashionable head accesory that may resemble how gangs may wear it but not all the time. In the US for instance, the Crips gang use blue handkerchiefs, and their rivals, the Bloods, use red, wearing the bandanas in various manners though generally not in the breast pocket of a jacket. Bandanas are also used for sanitary purposes, and because they are larger and not white (don't show stains as well), they are often used by those working outdoors or with machinery. Because they are connected to the working class they are also a symbol of working-class struggles, opposite of the cultured monied feel of a plain white handkerchief.
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