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A wimple as shown in Portrait of a Woman, circa 1430-1435, by Robert Campin (1375/1379–1444), National Gallery, London. The cloth is 4-ply and the pins holding it in place are visible at the top of the head.
Monumental brass of Margaret, Lady Camoys (d.1310), St George's Church, Trotton, West Sussex. This is the earliest surviving brass of a female figure in England.[1] She wears around her neck a wimple (or gorget) which hides the chin and sides of the face. This style of dress continued in fashion until the end of the reign of King Edward III (1327-1377).[2]

A wimple is a medieval form of female headdress, formed of a large piece of cloth worn around the neck and chin, and covering the top of the head. Its use developed in early medieval Europe. At many stages of medieval Christian 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, and later elaborated versions were supported on wire or wicker framing, such as the cornette.

Italian women abandoned their head cloths in the 15th century, or replaced them with transparent gauze, and showed their elaborate braids. Both elaborate braiding and elaborately laundered clothes demonstrated status, in that such grooming was being performed by others. Today the wimple is worn by certain nuns who retain a traditional habit.[3]

In literature[edit]

The Wife of Bath and the Prioress are depicted wearing wimples in the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343–1400).

The King James Version of the Bible explicitly lists wimples in Isaiah 3:22 as one of a list of female fineries; however, the Hebrew word "miṭpaḥoth" (מִטְפָּחוֹת) means "kerchief".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Macklin, Herbert Walter & Page-Phillips, John, (Eds.), 1969, p.68[1]
  2. ^ Macklin, Herbert Walter & Page-Phillips, John, (Eds.), 1969, p.69
  3. ^ Heron, Lynford (January 18, 2003). "Woman, Prayer & Head Covering". Centurion Ministry. Archived from the original on 2010-03-18.