Bandanas are among the most iconic motorcycling accessories, so much so that some people like to wear bandana motorcycle gloves that mimic the traditional paisley pattern. However, bandanas were not created especially for motorcycles and, in fact, predate them by centuries. A highly functional item with many possible uses, bandanas have often been worn to make a fashion statement as well. Find out more about the history of this simple yet highly significant accessory.
Where Did Bandanas First Come From?
Bandanas seem to have originated in the Middle East and South Asia. While it is not entirely clear where the word "bandana" comes from, it may derive from "bandhnu," which means "to tie" in the Hindu language. In other words, it appears that bandanas have always been used more or less the same way they are now, to tie around some part of the body, usually the head or face.
Traditionally, bandanas have borne a recognizable paisley pattern. This has its roots in Persia. It is often reproduced faithfully, but some designers have taken some artistic license with it, playing on the traditional paisley motif to inspire their designs. Not all bandanas feature the paisley motif; some have patriotic symbols, logos of popular brands, or other abstract designs, such as stripes. However, the paisley pattern is so iconic that bandanas are associated even when it appears on other accessories, such as motorcycle gloves.
How Have Bandanas Evolved Through History?
Many groups throughout history have worn bandanas, including farmers, cowboys, miners, and sailors. These groups were not trying to make any sort of fashion statement. Bandanas were simply a convenient way to protect their heads and faces from harsh wind and sun conditions. However, the bandanas and the way people wore them started to take on their own symbolic significance, so that someone who wore a bandana over the face was thought to be a cowboy, while wearing it over one's head evokes the impression of a sailor or a pirate and wearing it around the neck may identify one as a farmer.
Perhaps because of the perception of some of these groups, e.g., cowboys and pirates, as lawless renegades, the bandana was adopted as a symbol of rebellion. Bandanas come in many different colours, and these started to take on their own symbolic meanings. One of the most notorious examples is the use of specifically coloured bandanas used to identify affiliation with certain street gangs.
Bandanas have often been worn by individuals who want to signal that they are edgy and outside of the mainstream. Such individuals include musicians and other pop-cultural figures. Ironically, this leads to an increase in the popularity of bandanas as the general public starts wearing them in imitation. As a result of this commodification, bandanas fall in and out of fashion. Bandanas as a fashion accessory may have hit their peak in the 1990s and early 2000s. After a decline during the 2010s, they are now starting to see a comeback in the fashion world. However, bandanas never go out of style for motorcyclists because of their close association with the community.
Why Do Motorcyclists Wear Bandanas?
Motorcyclists like to see themselves as rugged individualists, and bandanas contribute to that image. However, there are also many practical reasons to wear a bandana on your head while riding a motorcycle. It protects your head from the sun, collects sweat, and makes your helmet more comfortable to wear by lining the inside. When the weather is cold, it helps to insulate your head and keep it warm. If you have long hair, it helps keep it out of your eyes as you ride.
Bandana motorcycle gloves from Fast Mask allow you to match your gloves to your bandana. Our custom gloves offer a range of colour choices for both the pattern and the base.