Thursday, 11 June 2009

Rambling round the barber's pole

We either go to or pass through Stornoway almost every day. I am always on the look out for blog ideas so when GB mentioned the barbers it made me wonder if they have red and white poles outside the barbers' shops in the USA? So I looked in Wikipedia and that told me that in the States they have red, white and blue poles. I wonder how the blue got in there?

The origin of the barber's pole lies in their secondary profession of bloodletting. During medieval times, barbers were also surgeons and bloodletters as well as tooth extractors. The original pole had a brass basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin which received the blood). The pole itself represented the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.

The red and white helical stripes symbolize the bandages used during the procedure: red for the blood-stained and white for the clean bandages. Originally, these bandages were hung on the pole to dry after washing. As the bandages blew in the wind, they would twist together to form the spiral pattern similar to the stripes in the modern day barber pole. The barber pole became emblematic of the barber/surgeon's profession. Later the cloths were replaced by a painted wooden pole of red and white stripes. Some barbers have spinning poles in which case the pole is supposed to spin in such a manner that the blood appears to be flowing downwards.

On a less bloodthirsty subject we saw a Triumph TR6 parked up in the car park. It had a German number plate.

There are so many great blogs around that to pick one out and recommend people visit it seems invidious somehow. But when I read Sometimes on Saz's blog I thought - "I've got to send everyone over there for that one." it's the sort of posting to print off and put on one's wall.

1 comment:

  1. I'd always wondered what the poles stood for. And I have no idea how the blue got in there. Maybe overly patriotic Americans wanted their flag displayed?


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