You may have seen it in many western or cowboy films – a piece of cloth wrapped around their necks. These “wild rags” are usually worn for both work and play, and a staple in cowboy gear.
What are Wild Rags
Wild rags are kerchiefs worn around the necks. They are generally used for warmth during the cold weather and as protection against the sun, dirt, and wind. They first started as part of the standard cowboy dress during the 1800s, and the first ones were made of old flour sacks, since softer fabrics such as cotton were still expensive or difficult to find back then.
Nowadays, wild rags have a range of sizes, colors, and fabrics, with silk being one of the most popular. As far as wild rags are concerned, true silk is often preferred because they are a highly absorbent fiber that can easily draw moisture from the away from the skin, but warmer compared to wool during cold weather.
A true cowboy knows that wild rags silk are never knotted while working. This is to avoid accidentally choking or being “hung up” by a hard knot. Often, these scarves are simply loosely wrapped around the neck and then tucked into the collar so that they can be easily used whenever needed. Wild rags are knotted during special occasions or events.
Caring for Wild Rags
Just as with any type of cloth, silk wild rags can be washed either by hand or washing machine, provided that they are given a little more care. Washing silk the right way can help keep its rich colors and natural shine. Make sure that you don’t use hot water, as heat can damage it. Avoid twisting, stretching, or wringing the fabric.
In addition, keep the water temperature constant or slowly change it as it can damage the fabric. Silk can be dried by rolling it in a cotton towel to remove water and air-drying it to remove excess water. Avoid drying it under direct sunlight or heat to prevent damaging the fabric and fade its color.
Regardless of what you may call them, wild rags play a very important role in cowboys. They are not mere accessories but a vital part of the cowboy get-up.