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A woman wearing a blue bandana on her head

A kerchief (from the Old French couvrechief, "cover head"), also known as a bandana or bandanna, is a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head, face or neck for protective or decorative purposes. The popularity of head kerchiefs may vary by culture or religion, and may vary among Orthodox Jewish and Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Amish, and Muslim people.

The neckerchief and handkerchief are related items.



A man wearing a red bandana

A bandana or bandanna (from Sanskrit बन्धन or bandhana, "a bond")[1][2] is a type of large, usually colourful kerchief, originating from the Indian subcontinent, often worn on the head or around the neck of a person. It is considered to be a hat by some. Bandanas are frequently printed in a paisley pattern and are most often used to hold hair back, either as a fashionable head accessory, or for practical purposes. It is also used to tie around the neck to prevent sunburn, and around the mouth and nose to protect from dust inhalation or to hide the identity of its wearer.

Bandanas originated in India as bright coloured handkerchiefs of silk and cotton with spots in white on coloured grounds, chiefly red and blue Bandhani. The silk styles were made of the finest quality yarns, and were popular. Bandana prints for clothing were first produced in Glasgow from cotton yarns, and are now made in many qualities. The term, at present, generally means a fabric in printed styles, whether silk, silk and cotton, or all cotton.[3]

The word bandana stems from the Hindi words 'bāndhnū,' or "tie-dyeing," and 'bāndhnā,' "to tie." These stem from Sanskrit roots 'badhnāti,' "he ties," and Sanskrit 'bandhana' (बन्धन), "a bond."[4] In the 18th and 19th centuries bandanas were frequently known as bandannoes.[5]



The Oramal is a traditional kerchief used in Central Asia and the Caucasus (note how it is banded, the neck is usually not covered by it). In some countries like Uzbekistan, it was traditionally used only at home, while in public the paranja was more popular. In other countries, like Kazakhstan, it was commonly used in public. In Kyrgyzstan, the white color is an indication that the woman is married.

As well it was widely used by men at horse riding at summertime instead of cap.


Kerchiefs are also worn as headdresses by Austronesian cultures in maritime Southeast Asia. Among Malay men it is known as tengkolok and is worn during traditional occasions, such as weddings (worn by the groom) and the pesilat.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Definition of bandanna". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  2. ^ "Bandanna from". Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  3. ^ Curtis, H. P. (1921). Glossary of Textile Terms. Marsden & Co. Ltd.
  4. ^ "Bandanna from". Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  5. ^ Yule and Burnell (2013), "Bandanna", p.78.
Additional sources

External links[edit]