Odin Heimdall

What is Barber's Pole meaning and the history of the symbol

  • Posted 1 year ago

For many centuries, barbers performed the functions of doctors and barbers at the same time. Until the 18th century, they not only cut hair, but also performed minor operations, removed sick teeth and performed bloodletting.

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In the 14th century there is a separation of hairdressing and medical services performed by barbers. The establishments where surgeons worked began to be marked with a pole painted red, while barbers were marked in blue, with white stripes painted on it.

The craftsmen who provided all kinds of services preferred the tricolor, whose combination of colors was considered classic.

Another story says that the red stripes on the barber floor, alternating with the white ones, resembled bandages: the white ones were clean and the red ones were stained with blood. After washing, they would hang out on the fence in front of the establishment, and the wind would twist the bandages around it and make a spiral. This is exactly what we are used to seeing at Barber’s Pole.

The shape of the sign resembled a rod that was fastened in the center of a pelvis designed to drain blood. It was squeezed tightly by patients so that the veins would bulge and be easier to detect.

Often a motor is built into the sign, which spirals and creates the sensation of endless stretching ribbons. A light bulb on the pole signals the operation of the establishment: lit – open, unlit – closed.

This is the centuries-old history of the world-famous Barber’s Pole sign.