By Art of Manliness
A bolo tie consists of a braided leather cord with silver or metal tips. The cord is threaded through a slide or clasp made of metal, wood, or beads. The clasp is typically decorated or made in the shape of Western designs and motifs like bears, thunder-birds, horses, and cattle skulls. The clasps are often inlaid with turquoise or other precious stones. Some are embellished with Indian beading.
Bolo ties go by different names. Bola tie, cowboy tie, and string tie have all been used interchangeably. As long as it’s a braided cord clasped together and worn like a tie, it’s a bolo tie.
The History of the Bolo Tie
The exact origins of the bolo tie have been obscured by the desert sands of the American Southwest. Some historians say it was inspired by bandanas that Zuni and Navajo Indians wore around their neck and kept clasped together with a silver scarf slide. Someone got the idea to substitute a piece of a leather string for the fabric and boom! The bolo tie was born.
Historian Bill Krammer literally wrote the book on bolo ties: Bola Tie: New Symbol of the West. According to him, the origins of the bolo tie can be traced back to a serendipitous moment Arizona silversmith Victor E. Cedar-staff experienced while chasing wild horses in the 1940s. While on the chase, Cedar-staff’s silver-clasped hatband slipped off, causing his hat to fly away. He salvaged his hatband and slipped it over his neck for safekeeping. His companeros noticed and complimented his new “tie.” The rest is southwestern style history.
Cedar-staff created a line of ties inspired by the incident. He braided leather, placed silver tips on the ends to keep them from fraying, and then joined the strands with a turquoise stone to be used as an adjustable clasp. He applied for a patent, calling his creation the bola tie, named after the boleadoras cords used by Argentinian cowboys.