A bag (also known regionally as a sack) is a common tool in the form of a non-rigid container. The use of bags predates recorded history, with the earliest bags being no more than lengths of animal skin, cotton, or woven plant fibers, folded up at the edges and secured in that shape with strings of the same material.
Despite their simplicity, bags have been fundamental for the development of human civilization, as they allow people to easily collect loose materials such as berries or food grains, and to transport more items than could readily be carried in the hands. The word probably has its origins in the Norse word baggi, from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European bʰak, but is also comparable to the Welsh baich (load, bundle), and the Greek βάσταγμα (bástagma, load).
Cheap disposable paper bags and plastic shopping bags are very common in the retail trade as a convenience for shoppers, and are often supplied by the shop for free or for a small fee. Customers may also take their own shopping bags to some shops. Although paper had been used for purposes of wrapping and padding in ancient China since the 2nd century BC, the first use of paper bags (for preserving the flavor of tea) in China came during the later Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD).
Bags have been around for hundreds of years and have been used by both men and women. Bags have been prevalent as far back as ancient Egypt. Many hieroglyphs depict males with bags tied around their waist. The Bible mentions pouches, especially Judas Iscariot, carrying one around, holding his personal items. In the 14th century, wary of pickpockets and thieves, many people used drawstring bags, in which to carry their money. These bags were attached to “girdles” via a long cord fastened to the waist.
Women also wore more ornate drawstring bags, typically called hamondeys or tasques, to display their social status. The 14th-century handbags evolved into wedding gifts from groom to bride. These medieval pouches were embroidered, often with depictions of love stories or songs. Eventually, these pouches evolved into what is known as a chaneries, which were used for gaming or food for falcons. During the Renaissance, Elizabethan England’s fashions were more ornate than ever before. Women’s wore their pouches underneath the vast array of petticoats and men wore leather pockets or bagges inside their breeches. Aristocrats began carrying swete bagges filled with sweet-smelling material to make up for poor hygiene.