The long strip of cloth was soaked in water at a well, and then wrapped around the head. The layers of wet cloth kept wet all day in the hot dry air.
Contemporary turbans come in many shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Middle Eastern, Central Asian, South Asian, Islamic, and Sikh turban wearers usually wind their turban anew for each wearing, using long strips of cloth. The cloth is usually five meters or less. However, some elaborate South Asian turbans may be permanently formed and sewn to a foundation.
- Turbans are worn as women's hats in Western countries. They are usually sewn to a foundation, so that they can be donned or removed easily. Now that fewer Western women wear hats they are less common. However, turbans are still worn by female cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemotherapy and wish to cover their heads. Some women use wigs; others prefer scarves and turbans.
- Women of the West Indies often cover their heads with intricately tied scarves which may be called scarves, head wraps, or turbans.
In Western countries such as the United States, Canada, Europe, etc., men seen wearing turbans in public are likely to be Sikhs, who wear turbans to cover the long uncut hair worn as a sign of their commitment to the Sikh faith.
Unlike any other religion, the turban is closely associated with the Sikh faith. Those who undergo initiation, Khande di Pahul (a type of baptism), to join the Khalsa are forbidden to cut their hair as well as non-baptised Sikhs. Such men are required to wear a turban to manage their long hair. Mostly baptised women also wear turban however non-baptised sikh women usually do not wear turban. Un-initiated Sikhs are still required to leave their hair unshorn. The vast majority of people who wear turbans in Western countries are Sikhs. In India, a turban is commonly called pagṛī (ਪਗੜੀ). Sikhs often call it dastār (ਦਸਤਾਰ), a more respectful Punjabi word for 'turban'.
Rajput men from the Indian state of Rajasthan wear distinctive turbans. In Hindi, a turban is called a pagṛī (पगड़ी) or sāfā (साफ़ा). Many styles of turbans are found in Rajasthan; it is said that the style (and smell) of the turban changes with every 15 km you travel. In some areas, especially in Rajasthan the turban's size may indicate the position of the person in society. 'Royalty' in different parts of India have distinctly different styles of turbans, as do the 'peasants', who often just wear a towel wound around the head.
The people of the Indian districts of Mysore and Kodagu wear turbans called Mysore peta. Distinguished people are honoured by the award of a Mysore peta in a formal ceremony. In Kodagu district people wear it with traditional dress on special occasions such as marriages.
Turbans in Muslim majority countries
- Turbans are worn by Muslim scholars (ulema) in many countries.
- In some countries, wearing a black turban is a claim to status as a sayyid, or descendant of Muhammad.
- Black turbans were imposed by the controversial Taliban regime in Afghanistan. 
- In Sudan, large white turbans are worn; they generally connote high social status.
In modern Persian Gulf countries, the turban has been replaced by the plain or checkered scarf (called keffiyeh, ghutrah or shumagh), though the turban tradition is still strong in Oman (see Sultan Qaboos of Oman).
Turbans as hats in Western countries
Turbans have been worn by men and women since the 17th century, without ever becoming very common. Now that hats are infrequently worn, turbans too are relatively uncommon. They are worn primarily by women of West Indian descent and by female cancer patients.
Some African-American men wear scarves on their heads, and sometimes these scarves are elaborated to the point that they might be called turbans.
History of turbans
Humans have been wearing cloth on their heads since the invention of cloth. Texts and art that survive from many past cultures mention turbans.
- The ancient Persians wore a conical cap sometimes encircled by bands of cloth.
- It is believed that the Arabs of the time of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, wore turbans. The turban was very useful for fending off the desert sand and protecting the face from high temperatures and strong sunlight. A turban signified dignity; knocking off a man's turban was considered an insult. When the great Islamic empires were established, under the first four caliphs, the Umayyads, and the Abbasids, the new rulers wore turbans. Turban-wearing diffused to populations under Islamic rule, even in countries where turbans were not previously worn. However, turbans, like all fashion, waxed and waned in popularity, or shifted from one style to another.
- Probably the largest-ever Turbans were worn by high-ranking Turks of the Ottoman period, including soldiers. These were enormous round turbans, wrapped round a hollow cone or framework, that often projected at the top. From the 19th century the Turks mostly gave up the turban for the fez at the same time as they abandoned their kaftan tunics for more Western dress. Broad-rimmed Western hats did not meet the Islamic requirement that the forehead touch the ground during prayer (for which head-gear is not removed) and the Sultan issued a decree enforcing the wearing of the fez, applicable to all religious groups. Suleiman the Magnificent was renowned for the size of his turban.
- Many contemporary images show European men of the Middle Ages and Renaissance wearing headgear that looks like turbans. These hats are actually chaperons, which could look very similar.  Men in Europe were expected to take off their headgear in church, and in the presence of a person of much higher rank, like a king. This is not easy with a turban. Turbans also appear in European religious art, especially in scenes picturing the Holy Land, then inhabited by turban-wearers. Turbans did not become a regular part of European headgear until the late 17th century. Men then shaved their heads and wore heavy wigs; when relaxing at home, they removed the wigs and covered their heads with caps or sometimes turbans.
- European women wore an amazing variety of headresses, some of which appear to be wrapped scarves or turbans. If they were turbans, they do not seem to have been all that common. In the late 18th century and early 19th, turbans became fashionable headgear for women.  The first recorded use of the English word "turban" for a Western female headress is in 1776 (OED). As with all styles, they have waxed and waned in popularity. Later Victorians wore wrapped toques; turbans were fashionable in the early 20th century.  , . The French couturier Poiret was known for his Orientalist designs featuring turbans. Turbans were fashionable in the 1940s and 1950s , ; one name given them was cache-misère (French, "hide misery"), a chic solution to a bad-hair day.  After a precipitous decline in hat-wearing during the 1960s, turbans are rarely seen.
Harassment of turban-wearers
In some western countries a number of turban-wearers have been attacked or abused on the mistaken assumption that all men wearing turbans are Muslims. Sikh men wearing turbans have been harassed or even killed because of their headgear.   One widely publicized incident was the murder of Balbir Sodhi. In fact, North American and European Muslims rarely wear turbans, preferring the small skullcap often called a kufi.
- Afghan Taliban orders students to wear turbans
- Terence Dukes. The Boddhisattva Warriors: The Origin, Inner Philosophy, History and Symbolism of the Buddhist Martial Art Within India and China (p. 3, 158-174, 242).
- S. W. Reed, From Chaperones to Chaplets:Aspects of Men’s Headdress 1400–1519, M.S. Thesis, 1992, University of Maryland, available online
- "Turbans Make Sikhs Innocent Targets", by Larry B. Stammer, The Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2001, reprinted at WackyIraqi.com, retrieved 8 June 2006
- "California woman charged with intimidating Sikhs in Oregon", by Steven Du Bois, Berkeley Daily Planet, 18 September 2001, retrieved 8 June 2006
- "Immigrants fear backlash to terror attacks", by Suhasini Haidar, CNN, 19 September, 2001, retrieved 8 June 2006
- "Hate crime victim recounts assault in his liquor store", by Cadonna M. Peyton, Associated Press. Berkeley Daily Planet, 8 December 2001, retrieved 8 June 2006
Turbans - general
- The Sikh on the Street - Short video challenging perceptions and stereotypes to who the Sikhs are.
- Understanding Turbans
- The Sikh Turban
- Why Sikhs Wear a Turban
- Rate My Turban Promoting the positive image of the turban
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