This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Veil. In modern use the veil is a piece of gauze, barege, net, or similar fabric, used to cover the face, either for concealment or as a screen against sunlight, dust, insects, etc. It is one of the most ancient articles of female attire, and for centuries has been a necessary constituent in the costume of a nun. Thin veils of gauze, or of some transparent substance of the like kind, were in use among the Jewish ladies as early as the time of Solomon: to this ornament apparently he alludes in the Canticles, where, speaking of the bride, he says, "Thine eyes are like those of doves behind thy veil." It is a well known fact that every woman of rank or character in the eastern part of the world from time immemorial down to the present hour, appears veiled before the eyes of men. With them the veil is considered a protection to the female sex; and therefore the removing or turning it forcibly aside is conceived to be the highest insult that a man could be guilty of toward a woman, an affront of this character on the part of a stranger being often punished by death. Veils, although generally considered a portion of female dress, were at one time worn by men. St. Ambrose (A. D. 374) speaks of the "silken garments and veils interwoven with gold, with which the body of rich men were encompassed." Their use is now so extended that they are found in every part of the civilized world, but almost exclusively confined to women. The custom for a bride to wear a veil at her marriage originated in the Anglo-Saxon manner of performing the wedding ceremony under a large veil, or square piece of cloth held at each corner by a tall man over the head of the bride, to conceal her virgin blushes; but if the bride was a widow the veil was esteemed useless. [See Gauze]