A do-rag (also spelled variously as a doo-rag, dew-rag, du-rag or durag), is a piece of cloth used to cover the top of one's head. Sometimes made of nylon material and having a "skullcap" fit it may also be referred to as a "wavecap". According to the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term derives from 'do as in hairdo.
The earliest use of do-rags in history are found in 19th century Ethiopia, particularly among soldiers. The most famous historical user of the head covering was Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II. He sometimes wore do-rags with a hat or crown, as minted on Ethiopian state coins. During the slavery period in the United States, African American women wore scarves that were later to become the do-rags of the 1930s to the 1960s. Do-rags were also used by African American men to hold chemically processed hair-dos in place while they slept. Originally they were most commonly made from women's stockings; these were called stocking caps, not do-rags. Now, many are made from polyester. Do-rags re-emerged as a fashion trend among urban youth in the 1990s and 2000s, first among African Americans, who used them to maintain their new hair styles. Do-rags are worn in a variety of colours, with black being the most common. Do-rags are regularly used to create and maintain waves and cornrowed hairstyles. They usually have long ties on either side that are wrapped around the head to secure the do-rag by tying behind the back. However, the old do-rags were not tied behind the head but on the front of the head.
In April 2000, the American National Football League banned its players from wearing do-rags and bandanas underneath their helmets. The ban did not apply to players who wore them for medical reasons.
Over the years motorcyclists have begun to wear do-rags, especially in states with motorcycle helmet laws, to prevent "Helmet Hair" or "Helmet Head". There was also the practical value of the do-rag preventing sweat and scalp oils (especially if the biker is bald) from causing an unpleasant smelling helmet, or wearing a do-rag without a helmet to prevent sunburn. Constructed a little differently with ties and a tail, they come in many different styles and colors.
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- do-rag, n. Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed 9 July 2008
- do-rag. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Accessed 9 June 2008.
- "King Menelik sported do-rag".
- NFL's New Rule Bans Do-Rags And Bandanas Worn On The Field - National Football League - Brief Article | Jet | Find Articles at BNET.com