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The Bandanna

Updated on November 29, 2016

A bandanna is a large square of cotton or linen that has been treated in some parts of its surface by a substance that will resist dye. When the fabric is dyed, the undyed spots produce a pattern. It is used principally for scarfs, furniture coverings, and bunting.

The term bandanna was applied originally to yellow or red silk handkerchiefs, with white or yellow spots, that were made in India by a process called bandhnu, in which the areas to remain undyed were knotted tightly. Portuguese travelers brought the idea to Europe in the 16th century. In the 18th century bandannas became popular in England as neckcloths and handkerchiefs. In the United States they were worn as neckcloths by cowboys in the West.

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