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Purpose and Meaning of a Pirate's Sash

Imagine a pirate. Most likely you have pictured the notorious Jack Sparrow, a character that Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" introduced. It is also very likely that you pictured his ragged sash. Although the costume of Jack Sparrow is close to historical accuracy, his sash serves as no more than a simple article. However, the pirate sash was more than a superfluous embellishment. It had meaning, a surprising notion is known about pirates.

Not exclusive to the beauty pageant

The sash was more commonly used for holding weaponry. It was made of a fine fabric, depending on the wealth and vanity of the pirate who wore it. It would occasionally get layered with a leather sash to better support the weight of the weaponry.

More than a symbol of wealth

Wealth can yield a great deal of respect from one's peers, and the pirate sash represented wealth. Therefore, it represented the rank of the pirate. During the Elizabethan Era, laws existed that forbade anyone below their proper ranks from wearing certain colors and fabrics. To both assert their wealth and mock the laws, pirates would wear richer and finer fabrics. Worn on either the shoulder or around the waist, the sash could distinguish a leading pirate from a subordinate one.

Pirates, infamous for their criminal behavior, had developed a sense of dignity through their attire. Rather than simply adorning themselves with jewels, they flaunted a sense of indispensable wealth with the sash. Virtually useless except for the holding of weaponry, the pirate sash presented the wealth and therefore, rank, of the pirate. It gave the seemingly worthless pirate a sense of value.

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