SERIES Fashion Origins – Hello! So where did all the white bandanas disappear to? (2/4)

I saw a blog post about different ways of wearing bandanas, and I thought to myself: here’s another clothing item that is known and worn across the world. But must have originated from somewhere to start, right? So off to research the origins… Fascinating! 

Bandanas originated in India as bright coloured handkerchiefs of silk and cotton with spots in white on coloured grounds, usually red or blue. The word bandana stems from the Hindi words ‘bāndhnū,’ or “tie-dyeing,” and ‘bāndhnā,’ “to tie.” Often printed with the paisley pattern and worn on the head or around the neck of a person, this accessory has been adapted in many countries to become an incontournable fashion accessory.  

As we all know with cultural adaptation comes various interpretations.

The Bandana as the ultimate cowboy tool! 

HeeHa! 🐎 Used by real cowboys and ranch hands, the bandana was never about fashion. Practical, the bandana was perfect, for wiping the sweat off your face and protecting you from sunburn during a long day moving cattle. Affordable, bandanas became part of the cowboy uniform in the 1800s. 

In the early 1900s coal miners used them for the same purpose and wore them for protection. In the early 1900s, a time when mineworkers faced the constant threat of death – from explosions, cave-ins and poor working conditions, mineworkers took up arms to protest. United, they called themselves the “Redneck Army” as they wore the red bandanas around their necks to identify each other. 

The discreet Bandana Hanky Code

You show me yours, I’ll show you mine. An ingenious way of communication used by homosexuals 👬 during the 1960s and 1970s to convey their sexual preferences. 

This initially originated during the Gold Rush, when men had to dance with each other in square dances due to the shortage of women. Hence, a code wherein the man wearing the blue bandana took the male part in the square dance, and the man wearing the red bandana took the female part was adopted. The bandanas were usually worn around the arm or hanging from the belt or in the back pocket of one’s jeans. 

Warning: Be careful how you fly your Bandana colour!

Gang members being quite proud of their membership, they ostentatiously identify themselves through their clothing by wearing certain bandana colours. In other words “to fly one’s colours”! So… I of course wonder: what colour is left for me to wear which will not get me in trouble? White of course!

The White Bandana as sign of our unity and tolerance

And this brings us to the #TiedTogether movement that was launched by the Fashion industry in 2017 when Donald Trump enstaured the anti-immigration decree. Do you remember? To tell you the truth, I don’t… really not a fashionista! Apparently, everybody was encouraged to proudly wear his/her white bandana. So, I ask, where are the white bandanas when we need them most? 👀 Reminding us all that the fight is not over. Unity, understanding, tolerance still has not been achieved. 

So maybe the uses of the bandanas have evolved. And I can understand that. But I do believe that there remains one use that still needs to be maintained. That we all show the world that we each believe in the common bonds of humankind 💞 — regardless of race, sexuality, gender, or religion. We should continue to wear that white bandana until everyone is doing so. And just like the masks today, not wearing a white bandana will be odd. And not believing in its message will be even odder.  

To be followed…
Don’t want to miss out? Then subscribe to the blog! I will love to have you!

3 thoughts on “SERIES Fashion Origins – Hello! So where did all the white bandanas disappear to? (2/4)

Leave a Reply