Neckerchief/bandana/wild rag and bollo/string tie history

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Silver Creek Slim:

Does anyone know the history of the aforementioned (love using that word) items? Also the history of slides for neckerchiefs? TIA.


I wouldn't be surprised if bandanas and neckerchiefs go back to shortly after the invention of fabric, 'cause it's for sure that blowing dust and grit were around a long time before that. I can't imagine the desert dwellers of prehistory doing without their protective headdresses. More to what I take to be the point of your question, certainly the vaqueros of Mexico and the Southwest had them in the old days.

String and bolo ties are, I believe, after our period, but I have been known to believe things that aren't so.

What is a "wild rag" anyway?

The neckerchief/head rag seems almost timeless and most likey has been around for thousands of years. 

The bolo tie seems to be a product of the 1920's I've never seen one pictured before that, but if a photo popped up someday it would not surprise me.

Wild rag pretty much seems to be a modern term for a large silk banndana.  No offense pard, but I don't think you have a lot of Real Cowboys out yer way.  (Works cattle from a horse type)  Out here most all of them own several.  They wrap them around their necks and tie them, it keeps yer neck warm.  Terry and I have sould several hundred in the last couple of months to these folks.  When it drops to -10 like it has around here and ya got to go out and tend cattle or horse's it is still and important part of yer gear.  One with a tie slie is also considered dress where out here in cowboy country. 

Col. Riddles:
The bolo, or bola, tie is so common in the west today that many people are surprised to find that it is relatively new.

In the late 1940s, a Navajo silversmith named Victor Cedarstaff went riding with friends in the Bradshaw Mountains outside Wickenburg, Arizona. When the wind blew his hat off, Cedarstaff removed the hatband, which had a silver buckle he did not want to lose, and put it around his neck.

When his friends complemented him on the new apparel, Cedarstaff returned home, and wove a leather string. He added silver balls to the ends and ran it through a turquoise buckle.

Cedarstaff later patented the new neckwear, which was called the bolo because it resembled the lengths of rope used by Argentine gauchos to catch game or cattle.

Now mass-produced, and bolos are usually made of leather cord, with a silver or turquoise buckle. They are common throughout the west and are often worn for business. In 1971 the Arizona legislature named the bolo the official state neckwear.

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.

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.

Cowboys (and others) preferred silk wild rags because silk would filter the muddy water from a river or watering hole whereas cotton would allow the mud to seep through. They simply would place a silk bandanna over the mouth of their canteen and slowly pour water from their hat into the canteen. Silk would also filter out the dust on windy days when tied over the mouth & nose.

Forty Rod:
When I was growing up the old timers called their bandannas 'scarves' or 'neckerchiefs'.

I was in high school before anyone but my Mom called them 'bandannas'. 

'Wild rags' started about the time 'cowboys' started wearing Jordache and Shady Bradys


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