A do-rag (also known 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. Enthusiasts of mixed martial arts (MMA) have also begun to wear them as part of their workout gear.
Soldiers wore OD green rags on their heads during patrol. The rag was used to prevent sweat or wipe sweat from the face thus allowing the soldier to "Drive On". They were referred to as "drive on" rags until the name was shortened to do-rags.
- 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
- Ethiopian Emperor Menelik Do rag
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