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THE BARBER POLE, purely of American origin, is physical object which is internationally recognised to signify the workplace of a barber.

The barber pole is cylindrical, and striped with a helix of red, white, or blue (or any combination thereof).

The historical origin of the barber pole is steeped in gruesome practice from a much less civilized age.

Barbers of old, before being replaced by doctors and dentists of modern were surgeons specialising in, but not limited to amputations, bloodletting, dental work, and hair cutting.

During the American Civil War, a barber, then known as a barber surgeon, would place his bloody rags on a wooden pole outside his tent. The rags (which were white) covered in blood (red) would dry in the sun, and the blood stains would turn blue.

Since then, the barber pole has slowly evolved: a round glass jar was added to the top of the pole to symbolise the container leeches were stored in, and a metal  bowled base to symbolise a container from which to collect dripping blood. With the advent of electricity and the light-bulb, the jar on top became a lighted sphere. An electric motor and internal light-bulb powered the cylinder to turn the helix counter clockwise (reason unknown) when viewed from the beneath. The spinning helix created a mesmerising optical illusion of upwards motion of the helix.


Today, barber poles can be seen all over the world, but outside of the United States, the historical significance is lost when used as an object to get public attention.

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