How Bags Evolved Over Time

Handbags have been with us since time immemorial. History tells that males in ancient Egypt tied purse-like pouches around their waists. Even Judas Iscariot in the Bible was mentioned carrying a purse everywhere. Peasants in early times use tiny bags when transporting seeds and Africans in the past carried beaded bags with them as well.


In the 14th century, almost everyone used drawstring bag to carry money. To secure the bag, it was made with long cord so it can be fastened to the waist. This bag was very useful at that time since clothes are sewn without any pockets on them. Pockets were only invented after several hundred years later.  Women during this time were also using ornate drawstring bags called “tasques” or “hamondays”. Such bags became symbols of social status.

In the 15th century, handbags were linked to matrimonial ceremonies. A bag or pouch with ornate coverings was presented by a groom to the bride during a common wedding. Bags were also common among knights who used them as hunting purses (called “chaneries”). This is where they placed the food for falcons as well as other large birds which they will use for gaming. A sealed bag for United Kingdom’s Chancellor was also reputed at this time and ecclesiastical purses for corporals and relics became famous during this period.

It is only until 16th century when women started wearing girdle pouches which they hide under their expansive petticoats. Men on the other hand have “bagges” or leather pockets. There were also cloth bags that were used across the body. This type is used by travelers and peasants.

In the 17th century, women started to learn embroidery. Along with this is the rise of ornately stitched handbags. It is interesting to note that embroidery skills were taught to women at this period to make them capable of getting married. In many instances, purses were used as presents and drawstring pouches emerged in many shapes and designs.

In the 19th century, technological advancements resulted to production of varieties of fabrics which gave birth to various styles of bags. Embroidered purses were presented by women to their potential husbands and hand held luggage were made.

During the 21st century, varieties of handbags emerged in many sizes, styles and materials. Technological advances also made it possible to endless construction opportunities of bags. Varieties of bag services were also offered like the handbag edge repair to prolong the life of bags, especially the expensive types. Most of all, even men become interested in bags and there are popular lines that are made especially for them.