2,000 Years of the Necktie: Bandanas from India

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Bandanas from India

by David Johnson
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Neckties Through the Ages

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Pulling No Punches for Bandannas

A few years before 19th century trendsetter Beau Brummell, a rugged young prizefighter of working class origins named Jem Belcher took to wearing a blue silk bandanna covered with large white spots containing pale blue bird's eye centers. Soon, working class Englishmen by thousands were wearing colored bandannas.

In so doing, they were adopting a trend already common in America. Only rich colonists wore cravats made of lace. America was already adopting a casual, practical attitude toward fashion.

Sanskrit origins

Derived from the Sanskrit word, bandhna, or bandhana, meaning "tying", bandannas were first imported from India around 1700. The original bandannas were silk and came in an array of colors, including red, blue, green, brown, black and white, pink, and yellow. Bandannas could also be hand printed or tie-dyed with flowers or bird's eye patterns

Cowboy uniform

Cowboys used red or blue bandanna to keep dust from the face. Bandits also used bandannas as masks. Bandannas today are an integral part of western style, and are often worn square dancing.

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