top of page

The History of the Bandana-Bandana的歷史

The History of the Bandana

The bandana is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing to have entered the wardrobe of modern western civilization. There are an infinite number of ways to use that light square of roughly 20 by 20 inch cloth, but where did the bandana as we know it today originate?

The word itself is suspected to come from the sanskrit word ‘badhnati’ which means binds or to tie. Through colonization and trade, the name found its way into the English dictionary around the mid-eighteenth century. Badhnati was later anglicized into ‘bandannoe’ via Portuguese and eventually it came to be the bandana we know today.

Field workers wearing bandanas in Life Magazine.

The bandana has served an important function for generations, worn by the likes of sailors, seafarers, farmers, cowboys, bikers and miners, and its use even extends to the LGBT community, gang members and general rebel culture. And the two-tone paisley-printed cotton cambric cloth has come a long way from the traditional resist dye techniques of Turkey and India, at times representing political campaigns and patriotism, at others, aiding in the promotion of popular culture and other twentieth century advertising.

From Persia to Paisley

You might be surprised that the famous paisley pattern that most of us associate with printed bandanas doesn’t actually come from Paisley, Scotland, but rather the region of Kashmir (once part of the Persian empire).

A Kashmir Buta c.1815. Image via The Kashmir Company.

Paisley is traditionally known as a distinctive, intricate pattern of curved feather-shaped figures, originally based on an Indian pinecone design.

A Kani Kashmir Moon Shawl c.1860. Image via Frank Ames.

Boteh has several meanings in Persian: bush, shrub, a thicket, bramble, herb. Some would even take it to mean a palm leaf, cluster of leaves (perhaps as a repeated pattern) and flower bud. For those looking for a jumping point, the boteh design dates back to over two thousand years ago and, given, Kashmir’s location, it also reached India, where they referred to it as ‘buta’.

Woven cashmere with buta prints were imported to Europe via the Dutch East India company in the eighteenth century, and quickly grew popular. Used as women’s shawls, these printed pieces symbolized great status, but were also quite expensive and eventually demand outgrew supply. Prices increased and thus many European (particularly English and Scottish) companies began to produce their own shawls in these styles.

In Western culture, this lopsided teardrop had many different associations depending on the country. In France, they called it ‘tadpoles’; in Wales they were ‘Welsh pears’; and in America, which was probably the most accurate, they referred to them as ‘Persian pickles’. But it was still the name ‘paisley’ that ended up sticking with the masses as the design spread across the globe.

The invention of the Jacquard loom would shutter many of the Scottish mills weaving Paisley style fabrics, but their dyeing dexterity and chemistry know-how would keep the Scots in the textile game.

Bandanas in Workwear

After becoming an advertising medium, the bandana became an even more important symbol in the fight for worker’s rights. The West Virginia Coal Miners March of 1921 was one of the largest armed uprisings in labor history and, at the march, over ten thousand United Mine Workers wore red bandanas to demand unions, an event many equate to the popularization of the derogatory term “redneck.”

West Virginia miners wearing red bandanas (trust us) in solidarity. Image via Blair Mountain Reenactment.

It was a battle between scarcely armed miners and armed lawmen of Logan County, but President Coolidge called in federal troops to support the strikebreakers. With more than a hundred casualties—mainly from the ranks of the coal miners—and almost a thousand arrests, management came out on top, but the labor movement would spark a change that eventually led to better conditions for union workers all over the country.

The bandana really came into its own during World War II, as women on the home front entered American factories and used them to tie their long hair back. Due to this, and partly due to John Wayne Westerns, the bandana became an iconic accessory that’s lasted to this day (even weathering the storm of some unfortunate applications, at times getting used as outlaw face protection and as a key piece in the vagrant’s bindle).

The bandana—and its different colors—was used in an entirely different fashion. Prominent gangs of the 80s, such as the Bloods and Crips, who would show their affiliation by wearing a red or blue bandana, respectively.

Turkey Red and the Mainstream Bandana

Produced for centuries in the east, the Turkey red-dyeing process would later become synonymous with printed cottons in Scotland, and thus the original, mainstream bandana. Brought to Scotland in 1785 by a French entrepreneur, it was then adopted by manufacturers in the Vale of Leven, Dunbartonshire.

It was a both complex and laborious process, involving madder root and alizarin to fix the dye to the cloth, as well as sheep’s dung, bullock’s blood and urine. This admittedly odd combination produced a highly valued color, one that wouldn’t fade with sunlight and washing–aka colorfast. The phenomenon of color fastness was a new and valued concept, but the use of the term wasn’t actually introduced until sometime around 1916.

According to Kiro Hirata—designer of Japanese brand Kapital and creator and curator of the Elephant Brand Bandana Museum, in Kojima, Okayama—the first Turkey red bandana dates back to around the 1850s. He’s opened this museum to share his interest in bandanas and the intriguing history attached to it. With over 250 bandanas on display, he’s managed to document the storied journey of an iconic, enduring design.

Another famous bandana brand featured at the museum, is the NYC-based Davis and Catterall, which existed from the 1920s to the 1970s. Also known as The Elephant Brand by collectors, because they implemented little elephants on their bandanas, Elephant Brand is widely recognized as the original Americana bandana. Because of this, many of these are sought-after collectors pieces, with price tags depending on age and design, with advertising variations being the most collectible.

Famous for their little elephant logo, which was typically printed next to an inscription saying: “fast color, 100% cotton,”

David & Catterall Elephant Brand Bandana label. Image via Waldfriend Enstate.

During the 50s, the trunk of the elephant, which had originally been facing down (dubbed as “trunk down”), was flipped, so it was turning up (“trunk up”), in order for Elephant to distinguish themselves from the competition. In 1986 a “classic” red/black/white (amongst other colors) bandana was entered into the Cooper Hewitt [Design] Museum, New York, donated by Penelope McClain, also indicating the historical significance of the bandana.

And the bandana market has continued to expand to this day, even if it hasn’t necessarily flourished. The little square cloth maintains its versatility as a close-at-hand accessory—both as a headband, necktie or even as a cloth to wipe off your phone screen. But who knew that this simple design would’ve had such a massive impact on so many different cultures.

Simple Union loves to try to bring story-rich material into every artwork, making each product more unique and historical. Recently, Simple Union tried to use Bandana's versatility to create and reveal Bandana elements into the Canvas Tote Bag. Each Canvas Tote is made up of the Vintage Bandana patchwork. Every piece is different.

Canvas Tote-Vintage Bandana


『BANDANA』或是『BANDANNA』中文翻譯是印花手巾、印大手帕或頭巾、領巾,日文直接翻譯發音『バンダナ』。在美國一般的店大約美金2-5元就可以買到色彩豐富的BANDANA。時尚服飾店或是滑板、單車等運動品牌也都會有BANDANA來搭配販售。而日本更是將BANDANA發揚光大,如品牌Visvim 的BANDANA 一條日幣過萬元,以及美國骨董級的ELEPHANT BRAND,極具收藏價值。今天我們會分享有關這條Bandana的發源地與故事,發現它的魅力所在。

Bandana這個詞本身被懷疑來自梵文詞'badhnati',意思是綁定或綁定。 經過了殖民化和貿易,Bandana這個名字在十八世紀中葉進入英國詞典。 Badhnati後來通過葡萄牙語成為'bandannoe',最終成為我們今天所知的bandana。

在幾個世代中,Bandana已經發揮許多不同的效用,由水手,海員,農民,牛仔,騎自行車者和礦工等人佩戴,其使用甚至延伸到LGBT社區,幫派成員和一般反叛文化。 雙色佩斯利(paisley-printed)印花棉麻布相比土耳其和印度的傳統抗蝕染技術,歷史更長遠,有時代表政治運動和愛國主義,亦是推廣了當時的流行文化。


事實上,大多數人擁有的佩斯利圖案(paisley pattern)印花Bandanas實際上並非來自蘇格蘭的佩斯利,而是來自克什米爾地區(曾經是波斯帝國的一部分)。佩斯利傳統上被稱為獨特而且錯綜複雜的彎曲羽毛形狀圖案,最初基於印度松果設計。

Boteh在波斯語中有幾種含義:灌木,灌木,灌木叢,荊棘,草本植物。 有些人甚至認為它意味著一片棕櫚葉,一簇葉子(可能是重複的圖案)和花蕾。 對於那些尋找跳躍點的人來說,boteh的設計可以追溯到兩千多年前,鑑於克什米爾的位置,之後傳入印度,在印度稱之為'buta'。

在十八世紀,帶有buta印花的梭織羊絨經過荷蘭東印度公司(Dutch East India company)進口到歐洲,並迅速流行起來。 作為女士披肩,這些印花飾品象徵著地位,非常昂貴,最終需求量大大增加而價格上漲,因此許多歐洲(特別是英國和蘇格蘭)公司開始生產這些款式的披肩。

在西方文化中,這種不平衡的淚珠根據國家而有許多不同的聯想。在法國,他們稱之為“蝌蚪”; 在威爾士,他們是'威爾士梨'; 在美國,這可能是最準確的,他們稱之為'波斯泡菜'(Persian pickles)。 但隨著設計遍布全球,它仍然是“佩斯利”這個名字最終與大眾保持一致。提花織機(Jacquard loom)的發明令許多編織佩斯利風格織物的蘇格蘭工廠關閉,但他們在紡織品中保持染色與應用化學知識的靈活性。


經過大眾媒體推廣,Bandana成為爭取工人權利的更重要的象徵。 西弗吉尼亞煤礦工人1921年3月是勞工歷史上最大的武裝起義之一,在遊行中,有超過一萬名聯合礦工穿著紅色Bandanas與工會抗爭。

這是幾乎沒有武裝的礦工和洛根縣的武裝法律人員之間的戰鬥,但柯立芝總統呼籲聯邦軍隊支持罷工破壞者。 管理人員有超過一百人傷亡 - 主要來自煤礦工人隊伍 - 並且近一千人被逮捕,當中包括管理層,勞工運動引發一場變革,最終為全國各地的工會工人帶來更好的抗爭條件。

在第二次世界大戰期間,Bandana自成一體,因為在家的女性人口進入了美國工廠,並用它們將長頭髮扎起來。這一點,部分歸功於John Wayne Westerns,Bandana成為了一直延續至今的標誌性配飾。80年代,著名幫派實施的聯盟,不同顏色有不同的意義,例如Bloods和Crips,他們分別通過佩戴紅色或藍色頭巾展示他們的隸屬關係。


土耳其紅色染色(Turkey red-dyeing)工藝開始時在東部有幾個世紀的歷史,而後來成為蘇格蘭印花棉花的代名詞,成為主流Bandana的發源地。 1785年由一位法國企業家帶到蘇格蘭,然後由Dunbartonshire的Leven淡水河谷的製造商採用。

1920s Advertisement for the United Turkey Red Co. Image via Grace’s Guide.

這是一個複雜的過程,包括茜草根和茜素將染料固定在布上,以及羊糞,公牛的血液和尿液。 這種奇特的組合產生了一種非常有價值的顏色,一種不會因陽光和洗滌而褪色的顏色。 色牢度(The phenomenon of color fastness)現像是一個新的和有價值的概念,但直到1916年左右才實際使用該術語。

根據日本品牌Kapital的設計師兼Elephant Brand Bandana Museum的創始人Kiro Hirata先生所表示,在日本的岡山小島,第一條土耳其紅色Bandana可以追溯到19世紀50年代左右。 他開設了這個博物館,分享他對Bandana的興趣以及它的有趣歷史。當中展出超過250條Bandana,記錄了標誌性、經久不衰的Bandana設計傳奇之旅。

而另一個著名的Bandana博物館是在紐約市的品牌Davis and Catterall,設在於20世紀20年代到70年代。收藏家稱之為The Elephant Brand ,因為他們在他們的Bandana上印有小象,The Elephant Brand 被廣泛認為是最初的美國Bandana。 因此,其中許多都是搶手的收藏品,而價格標籤取決於年齡和設計。

著名的小象標誌,通常印在一個銘文旁邊,上面寫著:“fast color, 100% cotton,”,在50年代,大象的軀幹,原本面朝下(被稱為“樹幹下來”)被翻轉,所以它正在翻起來(“樹幹上升”),以便大像從競爭中脫穎而出。 1986年,由Penelope McClain捐贈的紐約Cooper Hewitt [設計]博物館進入了“經典”紅/黑/白(其他顏色)Bandana,同時也表明了Bandana的歷史意義。


Simple Union 喜愛嘗試把富故事性的素材引入在作品之中,讓每件產品更具獨特性與歷史感。最近,Simple Union嘗試發揮Bandana 多功能性的特點,把Bandana元素創作並引入在Canvas Tote Bag中,每個Canvas Tote均由Vintage Bandana patchwork而成,特一無二。

Products Release : Canvas Tote Bag - Vintage Bandana