Bags, Handbags, purses throughout the ages and across cultures

An Assyrian panel made between 883–859 B.C depicting a ‘winged supernatural figure’ (Picture: Metropolitan Museum of Art) Read more: Twitter: | Facebook:
ancient stone handbag, areound 5000-7000,  Jiroft, people are not sure what they are used for
Ancient stone handbag
Roman Loculus, bag used by the roman legion 1st – 3rd century
15th century satchel, Pockets still not invented
15th century french purse with secret pockets
belt satchel/swete bagges. Pre-pockets

Discovered in Germany in 2012. It is studded with dogteeth from  2,500 and 2,200 B.C.


World’s oldest handbag is about 700 years old, discovered in Mosul, Northern Iraq         


An Elizabethan handbag. Image via Franses
Wedgwood Chatelaine, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Chatelaine, Tassenmuseum Netherlands. Chatelaine bag, LACMA.

From the 16th century, women often wore a decorative clasp at the waist with a series of chains attached, called a chatelaine. Suspended from it were useful household accessories such as scissors, keys, and sewing tools. Crafted from precious metals, chatelaines were considered as jewelry and status symbols.

Handbags and purses grew bigger so as to not get lost in all the fabric of the heavy skirts which were popular amongst woman of that time.


by the 17th century, pockets were invented, the common bag was now mainly used by women. However, bags with specific purposes were also now being invented.

In the 17th century, metals were also being used on bags more. For them to be attached to belts and girdles. This lead them to also have more accessories.

shoulder bags


Reticule, 18th century, used carry smelling salts, and hankerchief


19th century bread bag, popular during the world war, it was also fastened to the belt


Rotan bag, Kuala Lumpur, Used to carry harvest
modern rotan purse
Rotan backpack from borneo
Bomoh bag, Nigeria
The sporran, a scottish manly man-purse to match their manly man-skirts.



Traditional Korean purse, Bo Ja Gi
Traditional Japanese Furoshiki
Norwegian,‘Hjuringsmeis’, 18th century

Norwegian ‘seks and meks’, 18th century
The Russian traditional external frame pack is called “Ponyaga” or поняги and was originally used by the Tungusic and Nivkh people from the far eastern Russian regions of Eastern Siberia and Khabarovsk Krai; the examples below are from Irkutsk. “”
Russian Flyers, a primitive frame design
Alpine Kraxentragers and Kraxen.




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