net, mesh fabric, known from prehistoric times. Nets have been made of many materials, including sinews, strips of hide, silk, vegetable and synthetic fibers, and metallic threads. Their earliest use was probably for snaring animals and for fishing. Fishing nets include the stationary net, an early type; the drift net, an oblong vertical net, buoyed on its upper edge; the seine, whose ends are brought together to enclose the fish; and the bag-shaped trawl net, dragged along sea bottom. Hair nets include the gold or silver, wire or cord cauls worn in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; reticulated caps and cauls popular in Europe especially in the 14th cent.; chenille or ribbon snoods of the 19th cent.; and the "invisible" net of human hair. Net fabrics include veilings, tulle, and maline, as well as heavier dress nets, curtain nets, and filet, a foundation for lace. Nettings are used also for safety nets, for hammocks, and for hoisting loads.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.