From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A depiction of Captain Kidd, showing a red sash around his waist

A sash (from the Arabic: شَاش‎, romanizedšāš, lit.'muslin'[1]) is a large and usually colorful ribbon or band of material worn around the human body, either draping from one shoulder to the opposing hip and back up, or else encircling the waist. The sash around the waist may be worn in daily attire, but the sash from shoulder to hip is worn on ceremonial occasions only. Ceremonial sashes are also found in a V-shaped format, draping straight from both shoulders down, intersecting and forming an angle over the chest or abdomen.

Military use[edit]

Old Europe[edit]

Elaborately embroidered sash from 1635 to 1642

In the mid- and late-16th century waist and shoulder sashes came up as mark of (high) military rank or to show personal affection to a political party or nation. During the Thirty Years' War the distinctive sash colour of the House of Habsburg was red while their French opponents wore white or blue sashes and the Swedish voted for blue sashes.

Beginning from the end of the 17th century, commissioned officers in the British Army wore waist sashes of crimson silk. The original officer's sash was six inches wide by eighty-eight inches long with a ten-inch (gold or silver) fringe. It was large enough to form a hammock stretcher to carry a wounded officer. From about 1730 to 1768, the officer's sash was worn baudericke wise, i.e. from the right shoulder to the left hip, and afterwards around the waist again.[2]

Sergeants were permitted sashes of crimson wool, with a single stripe of facing colour following the clothing regulations of 1727. Whereas it remained vague whether the sash was to be worn over the shoulder or around the waist, it was clarified in 1747 that sergeants had to wear their sashes around the waist. From 1768, the sergeant's waist sash had one (until 1825) resp. three (until 1845) stripes of facing colour; in regiments with red or purple facings the sergeant's sash had white stripes or remained plain crimson.[3][4]

Until 1914 waist-sashes in distinctive national colours were worn as a peace-time mark of rank by officers of the Imperial German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies, amongst others.

The barrel sash is a type of belt traditionally worn by hussars.

Modern Europe[edit]

Since then sashes have been part of formal military attire (compare the sword-belt known as a baldric, and the cummerbund). Thus several other modern armies retain waist-sashes for wear by officers in ceremonial uniforms. These include the armies of Norway (crimson sashes), Sweden (yellow and blue), Greece (light blue and white), the Netherlands (orange), Portugal (crimson) and Spain (red and gold for generals, light blue for general staff and crimson for infantry officers).[5]

The Spanish Regulares (infantry descended from colonial regiments formerly recruited in Spanish Morocco) retain their historic waist-sashes for all ranks in colours that vary according to the unit.[6]

Sashes are a distinctive feature of some regiments of the modern French Army for parade dress. They are worn around the waist in the old Algerian or zouave style ("ceinture de laine"). Traditionally these sashes were more than 4 m (13 ft) in length and 40 cm (16 in) in width. In the historic French Army of Africa, sashes were worn around the waist in either blue for European or red for indigenous troops.[7]

(British) Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

The modern British Army retains a scarlet sash for wear in certain orders of dress by sergeants and above serving in infantry regiments, over the right shoulder to the left hip. A similar crimson silk net sash is worn around the waist by officers of the Foot Guards in scarlet full dress and officers of line infantry in dark blue "Number 1" dress. The same practice is followed in some Commonwealth armies.

The present-day armies of India and Pakistan both make extensive use of waist-sashes for ceremonial wear. The colours vary widely according to regiment or branch and match those of the turbans where worn. Typically two or more colours are incorporated in the sash, in vertical stripes. One end hangs loose at the side and may have an ornamental fringe. The practice of wearing distinctive regimental sashes or cummerbunds goes back to the late nineteenth century.[8]

Cross-belts resembling sashes are worn by drum majors in the Dutch, British and some Commonwealth armies. These carry scrolls bearing the names of battle honours.

United States of America[edit]

Washington at Princeton by Charles Wilson Peale (1779)

In the United States, George Washington, who served as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and later served as the first President of the United States, was noted for wearing a blue ribbed sash, similar to that of the British Order of the Garter, early in the war, as he had in 1775 prescribed the use of green, pink, and blue sashes to identify aides de camp, brigade-majors, brigadiers general, majors general, and the commander in chief in the absence of formal uniforms. He later gave up the sash as "unrepublican" and "pretentious for all but the highest-ranking aristocracy", according to historians. Washington is seen wearing the sash in Charles Wilson Peale's 1779 painting Washington at Princeton.[9][10]

Sashes continued to be used in the United States Army for sergeants and officers. In 1821 the red sashes (crimson for officers) were limited to first sergeants and above. In 1872 the sashes were abolished by all ranks but generals who continued to wear their buff silk sashes in full dress until 1917. Waist sashes (in combination with a sabre) in the old style are still worn by the officers and senior NCOs of the Commander-in-Chief's Guard of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) as well by the West Point Band drum major along with the West Point cadet officers.[11][12] The drum major of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps also still wears a waist sash, but no sidearms.

At the time of the American Civil War (1861–65) generals of the regular US Army wore silk sashes in buff. Officers were authorized silk sashes in crimson (medical officers: emerald) while red woolen sashes were entitled to senior non-commissioned officers (Army Regulations of 1861). In the Confederate Army sashes were worn by all sergeant ranks and officers. The colour indicated the corps or status of the wearer. For example: yellow for cavalry, burgundy for infantry, black for chaplains, red for sergeants, green or blue for medics, and grey or cream for general officers.


Japanese officers continued the practice in full dress uniform until 1940.[13]

Presidential sash[edit]

A presidential sash is a cloth sash worn by presidents of many nations in the world. Such sashes are worn by presidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and, most notably, in Latin America.

The sash is an important symbol of the continuity of the presidency, and is only worn by the president. Its value as a symbol of the office of the head of state can be compared to that of a crown in monarchies. Presidents leaving office formally present the sash to their successor as part of the official inauguration ceremony.

Presidential sashes are usually very colorful and very large and designed to resemble the nation's flag, especially those of Latin American presidents. They are usually worn over the right shoulder to the left side of the hip. The national coat of arms is also usually placed on the sash. A national order's star or chain of office can also be worn.

Current national leaders[edit]

Former national leaders[edit]

Modern civilian and cultural use[edit]

Prince Louis, Duke of Nemours, wearing the red sash of the Legion of Honour with his ceremonial military uniform, 1840s
Beauty pageant winner wearing two sashes
The former president of the Republic of Suriname wearing a ceremonial collar in a V-shaped neck sash style

With the genesis of complex systems of military and civilian awards during the 18th century in most European countries, sashes became a distinguishing part of honorific orders and are mostly worn along with decorations and medals. Today, various members of most European royal families wear sashes (also known as ribands) as part of their royal (and/or military) regalia on formal occasions. Some merit orders (such as the French Legion of Honour) also include sashes as part of the senior-most grades' insignia. Likewise, Italian military officers wear light blue sashes over the right shoulder on ceremonial occasions.

In Latin America and some countries of Africa, a special presidential sash indicates a president's authority. In France and Italy, sashes – featuring the national flag tricolours and worn on the right shoulder – are used by public authorities and local officials (such as legislators) during public ceremonial events.

In the United States, the sash has acquired a more ceremonial and less practical purpose. Sashes are used at higher education commencement ceremonies, by high school homecoming parade nominees, in beauty pageants, and by corporations to acknowledge high achievement.

In Canada, hand-woven sashes (known as ceintures fléchées or sometimes "L'Assomption sashes" after a Quebec town named L'Assomption in which they were mass-produced) were derived from Iroquois carrying belts sometime during the 18th century. As a powerful multi-use tool, this sash found use in the fur trade, which brought it into the North West by means of French voyageurs. During this period, the weave got tighter and size expanded, with some examples more than four metres in length. Coloured thread was widely used. The sash is a shared cultural emblem between French-Canadians and Métis peoples. Today, it is considered to be primarily a symbol of the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion Patriotes and the Métis Nation. In modern times, Bonhomme Carnaval, the snowman mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival, wears a ceinture fléchée as part of his attire in recognition of the province's heritage.

In the British Isles, especially Northern Ireland, the sash is a symbol of the Orange Order. Orange Order sashes were originally of the ceremonial shoulder-to-hip variety, as worn by the British military. Over the course of the 20th century, the sash was mostly replaced by V-shaped collarettes, which are still generally referred to as sashes. The item is celebrated in the song "The Sash my Father Wore".

Sashes are also worn by:

Sashes are part of the diplomatic uniform of many countries.

Many modern schools of Chinese martial arts use sashes of various colors to denote rank, as a reflection of the Japanese ranking system using belts. The Japanese equivalent of a sash, obi, serves to hold a kimono or yukata together.

Honorific orders[edit]

Sashes are indicative of holding the class of Grand Cross or Grand Cordon in a chivalric order or an order of merit. The sash is usually worn from the right shoulder to the left hip. A few orders do the contrary, according to their traditional statute.

William, Prince of Wales, wearing Garter Riband and Star in 2011
Knight of the Garter in the 1720s with Garter sash

Orders with the sash worn on the left shoulder[edit]



Brunei Sultanate of Brunei
Decorations Post-nominal Grade Ribbon Sources
The Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei
Darjah Kerabat Mahkota Brunei
DKMB Recipient [18]
The Most Esteemed Family Order of Laila Utama
Darjah Kerabat Laila Utama Yang Amat Dihormati
DK I Recipient [18]
The Most Esteemed Family Order of Seri Utama
Darjah Kerabat Seri Utama Yang Amat Dihormati
DK II Recipient [18]
The Most Eminent Order of Islam Brunei
Darjah Seri Ugama Islam Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bersinar
PSSUB First Class [18]
The Most Illustrious Order of Paduka Laila Jasa Keberanian Gemilang
Darjah Paduka Laila Jasa Keberanian Gemilang Yang Amat Cemerlang
DPKG First Class [19]
The Most Exalted Order of Paduka Keberanian Laila Terbilang
Darjah Paduka Keberanian Laila Terbilang Yang Amat Gemilang
DKLT First Class [18]
The Most Gallant Order of Pahlawan Negara Brunei
Darjah Pahlawan Negara Brunei Yang Amat Perkasa
PSPNB First Class [20]
The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei
Darjah Setia Negara Brunei Yang Amat Bahagia
PSNB First Class [21]
The Most Distinguished Order of Paduka Seri Laila Jasa
Darjah Paduka Seri Laila Jasa Yang Amat Berjasa
PSLJ First Class [22]
The Most Honourable Order of Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei
Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Brunei Yang Amat Mulia
SPMB First Class [23]
The Most Faithful Order Order of Perwira Agong Negara Brunei
Darjah Perwira Agong Negara Brunei Yang Amat Setia
PANB Recipient [24]
PaNB Recipient [24]
Malaysia Federation of Malaysia
Decorations Post-nominal Grade Ribbon Sources
The Most Exalted and Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Malaysia
Darjah Kerabat Diraja Malaysia
DKM Recipient [25]
The Most Exalted Order of the Crown of the Realm
Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara
DMN Recipient [25]
Kedah Sultanate of Kedah
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Kedah
Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Mulia Kedah
DK Member [citation needed]
Kelantan Sultanate of Kelantan
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Kelantan (Al-Yunusi Star)
Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat di-Hormati (Bintang al-Yunusi)
DK Recipient [citation needed]
Negeri Sembilan Sultanate of Negeri Sembilan
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan
Darjah Kerabat Neegri Sembilan Yang Amat di-Mulia
DKNS Member [citation needed]
The Order of Negeri Sembilan - Darjah Negeri Sembilan
Darjah Tertinggi Negeri Sembilan DTNS Paramount [citation needed]
Darjah Mulia Negeri Sembilan DMNS Illustrious
Pahang Sultanate of Pahang
The Most Illustrious Royal Family Order of Pahang
Darjah Kerabat Yang Maha Mulia Utama Kerabat di-Raja Pahang
DKP Member (Ahli) [citation needed]
The Most Esteemed Family Order of the Crown of Indra of Pahang
Darjah Kerabat Sri Indra Mahkota Pahang Yang Amat di-Hormati
DK I Member 1st class
Perak Sultanate of Perak
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Perak
Darjah Kerabat di-Raja Yang Amat di-Hormati
DK Member (Ahli)
(before 2001)

(after 2001)
[citation needed]
The Most Esteemed Perak Family Order of Sultan Azlan Shah
Darjah Kerabat Sultan Azlan Shah Perak Yang Amat di-Hormati
DKSA Superior class [citation needed]
The Most Esteemed Azlanii Royal Family Order
Darjah Yang Teramat Mulia Darjah Kerabat Azlanii
DKA I Member First Class [citation needed]
Perlis Sultanate of Perlis
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Perlis
Darjah Kerabat di-Raja Perlis Yang Amat Amat di-Hormati
DKP Recipient [citation needed]
The M. Est. Perlis Family Order of the Gallant Prince Syed Putra Jamalullail
Darjah Kerabat Perlis Baginda Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail Yang Amat Amat di-Hormati
DK Recipient [citation needed]
Selangor Sultanate of Selangor
The Most Esteemed Royal Family Order of Selangor - Darjah Kerabat Selangor Yang Amat di-Hormati
Darjah Kerabat Selangor Pertama DK I First Class [citation needed]
Darjah Kerabat Selangor Kedua DK II Second Class [26]
Terengganu Sultanate of Terengganu
The Most Exalted Supreme Royal Family Order of Terengganu (10/03/1981)
Darjah Utama Kerabat di-Raja Terengganu Yang Amat di-Hormati
DKT Member (Ahli) [citation needed]
The Most Distinguished Family Order of Terengganu (19/06/1962)
Darjah Kebesaran Kerabat Terengganu Yang Amat Mulia
DK I Member 1st class
Ahli Yang Pertama
[citation needed]

Classified examples of current orders' sashes[edit]

Colours classified in
the order of the rainbow :
White Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet Black
Order of the Dannebrog
Order of Grimaldi
Order of Vytautas the Great
/ (Spain)
Order of Isabella the Catholic
Order of Liberty
Order of the Golden Fleece
Order of Christ
Order of the Legion of Honour
Order of the Lion of Finland
Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
Order of Saint-Charles
Order of May
(Czech Republic)
Order of the White Lion
Order of the Crown of Tonga
Royal Order of Pouono
Order of St. Olav
Royal Order of King Sobhuza II
Military Order of Swaziland
Royal Order of Cambodia
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
/ (Papua New Guinea)
Order of Logohu
Order of the White Elephant
Order of the Golden Heart
Order of the Burning Spear
Order of the Chrysanthemum
Ancient / Current (Liechtenstein)
Order of Merit of the Principality of Liechtenstein
Order of the Star of Romania
(Holy See)
Order of Saint Gregory the Great
(Holy See)
Order of the Golden Spur
Order of Brilliant Jade
Order of Charles XIII
(South Korea)
Grand Order of Mugunghwa
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Bath
Order of the Crown
Order of the White Star
(Kingdom of Italy)
Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
Order of Chula Chom Klao
Military Order of Saint James of the Sword
Order of the Phoenix
Order of the House of Orange
Order for Loyalty and Merit
Order of the Dragon King
National Order of Merit
Order of the Precious Crown
Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas
Order of Orange-Nassau
Order of the Crown
Order of the Phoenix
Order of the Aztec Eagle
Order of the Royal House of Chakri
Royal Order of the Great She-Elephant
Medal of Victory of the Thunder Dragon
Order of Moniseraphon
Royal Household Order of Tonga
Order of the Rajamitrabhorn
National Order of Mali
Order of Merit
Royal Household Order of Swaziland
Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
Order of Beneficence
(United Kingdom)
Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
Order of the Golden Heart
Order of Public Instruction
Order of the Sword
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Thistle
Order of Aviz
Order of the Condor of the Andes
Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
Order of the Lion
Order of the Crown
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
Order of the Direkgunabhorn
Order of the Star of Jordan
Order of Vasa
Royal Norwegian Order of Merit
Order of the White Rose of Finland
Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
Order of the Tower and Sword
Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
Ordre national du Mérite
Order of the Merit of Chile
(United Kingdom)
Order of the Garter
Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of the White Eagle
Royal Order of the Seraphim
Order of Queen Salote Tupou III
Order of the Elephant
Order of the Southern Cross
Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe
Order of Rio Branco
Order of the Redeemer
Order of the Liberator General San Martín
/ (Spain)
Order of Civil Merit
/ (Spain)
Order of Charles III
Order of Faithful Service
(Belgium-Congo Free State)
Order of the African Star
Order of the Falcon
(United Kingdom)
Royal Victorian Order
/ (Thailand)
Order of the Crown of Thailand
/ (Malaysia)
Order of the Defender of the Realm
/ (Malaysia)
Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia
(United Kingdom)
Order of St Michael and St George
Order of the White Double Cross
(Holy See)
Order of Pius IX
Order of Adolphe of Nassau
Order of Honour
Order of the Netherlands Lion
Order of the Three Stars
Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
Order of Leopold II
Order of the Nile
(United States)
Presidential Medal of Freedom W/ Distinction
Order of Saint James of the Sword
Order of Leopold
Order of the Sun
Order of al-Hussein bin Ali
Order of Queen Maria Luisa
Order of Independence
Order of Vasco Núñez de Balboa
(Belgium-Congo Free State)
Royal Order of the Lion
Order of Culture
(United States)
Legion of Merit
Order of Academic Palms
Distinguished Service Order (Military)
(Holy See)
Order of the Holy Sepulchre
(Sovereign Military Order of Malta)
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Order of Rama
Order of Merit
(Holy See)
Order of Saint Sylvester
Order of the Polar Star
(Papua New Guinea)
Order of the Star of Melanesia
Order of Prince Henry
(Solomon Islands)
Star of the Solomon Islands
National Order of Merit
Royal Order of Bhutan
Supreme Order of the Renaissance
Grand Order of King Tomislav
Grand Order of Queen Jelena
Order of Liberty
Most Courteous Order of Lesotho

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "sash". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ Carl Franklin: British Army Uniforms of the American Revolution 1751-1783, Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84884-690-6, p. 356, p. 371,
  3. ^ "British Army Sergeant's Sash, 1727-1826". Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  4. ^ (Major) R. (Robert) Money Barnes, Military uniforms of Britain & the Empire: 1742 to the present time, London: Seeley Service & Co, 1960, p. 52.
  5. ^ Rinaldo D'Ami, "World Uniforms in Colour - the European Nations", ISBN 0-85059-031-0
  6. ^ José Bueno, Ejército Español, Uniformes Contemporáneos",ISBN 84-7140-186-X
  7. ^ André Jouineau, "The French Army in 1914", pages 45-63, ISBN 978-2-352-50104-6
  8. ^ John Gaylor, "Sons of John Company - the Indian and Pakistan Armies", ISBN 0-946771-98-7
  9. ^ Keller, Jared (November 16, 2016). "The Strange Case of George Washington's Disappearing Sash". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Rogers, James (August 29, 2017). "George Washington's 'rediscovered' Revolutionary War sash on display". Fox News. 21st Century Fox. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Fredrick Todd, "Cadet Gray: A pictorial history of life at West Point as seen through its uniforms", Sterling Publishing 1955, p. 40
  12. ^ West Point Band
  13. ^ Ritta Nakanishi, "Japanese Military Uniforms 1930-1945, 1991 Dai Nippon Kaiga
  14. ^ Royal Cabinet Website Archived 2008-04-24 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Royal Cabinet Website
  16. ^ Royal Cabinet Website, Order of the White Elephant Archived 2005-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Royal Cabinet Website, Order of the Crown of Thailand Archived 2007-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b c d e "Darjah Kebesaran Sultan Brunei". Darjah Kebesaran Sultan Brunei. Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  19. ^ "Sultanate - His Majesty's 57th Birthday Celebration Website | His Majesty The Sultan's Birthday | Royal Birthday". Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  20. ^ "The Most Gallant Order of Pahlawan Negara Brunei | Royal Insignia". 2019-06-05. Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  21. ^ "The Most Blessed Order of Setia Negara Brunei | Royal Insignia". 2019-06-05. Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  22. ^ "ODM of Brunei: Order of Merit of Brunei". Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  23. ^ "ODM of Brunei: Order of the Crown of Brunei". Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  24. ^ a b "ODM of Brunei: Order of the Crown of Brunei". Retrieved 2023-07-24.
  25. ^ a b General visual table of decorations
  26. ^ Selangor Official Website, DK II


External links[edit]