Bandana cloth originated in far off Chennai, in Eastern India. However this light, inexpensive and cool cloth became a symbol of Jamaican national culture after the 1940’s. Bandana’s plaid patterns and colours along with several other symbols became associated with the traditions and heritage of the ordinary Jamaican people.
Prior to that, Bandana has long been associated with Jamaican working women. When India fell under almost complete British control in the 19th Century, the Madras cloth trade proved a cheap fabric for enslaved and Black working class women in the Caribbean. The cloth, however, was worn as a mark of pride and distinction, particularly among market vendors. It is a tradition that continues today, especially worn during the Independence holidays.
Photos of Jamaican women wearing the bandana.