The Paisley Bandana.

A Brief History of The Bandana. 

The Bandana is probably the most universal textile the world.  The notion of a printed kerchief has been traced back as far as Roman times.  The oldest documented Persian rugs look pretty darn close to what we know as Paisley today.  This has been analyzed via Kashmiri Buta (or Boteh) patterns and scholars have pointed to shrubs and bushes and leaves as possible inspiration for the recognizable pattern.  These prints translated themselves to Europe through weavings through the 18th century.  

Surprisingly, the American Revolution was where the bandana really earned it’s stripes. (Oh, get it?)

Martha Washington had a printmaker whip up a commemorative bandana with her husband’s image riding a horse on it.  Multiple presidents adopted this style of iconography, as did The Yankees, Elvis, Disney and just about everyone else to sell stuff.  Then people started tying them around their heads.  A new style was born.  

Bandanas are icons in every culture.  The working class loves them.  Gay culture loves them (Handkerchief code, anyone?).  Gangs love them.  Cowboys love them.  Everyone loves them. 

If you’re looking for more information on the humble bandana, there are countless books, articles, museum exhibits and collectors groups to reference.  Sometimes the simplest thing has the most complex origins. 

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