For horse lovers and all cowboys at heart, the neckwear of choice is the Bolo Tie. It is a leather lanyard worn around the neck under the collar with a decorative clasp in the front. The ends of the lanyard are ornamented with silver tips. In the Southwest, bolo ties are appropriate for any occasion whether it’s the office, the rodeo, a honkytonk or with a tuxedo. Indeed, with a dress shirt, 13MWZ Wranglers and Cowboy Boots, a man can be comfortable anywhere from the Governor’s Mansion to the feedstore.
The Bolo Tie was invented on horseback in 1949 by one Victor Cedarstaff of Wickenburg, Arizona. Victor was out riding with a group of his friends in the Bradshaw Mountains when a gust of wind blew off his hat. He ended up with his hat strap around his neck and the silver strap buckle hanging in front. He thought it looked pretty good. Being a jewelry maker, he worked on the idea and came up with a nifty piece of neckwear.
He sought a name for his invention. He first called it the “piggin necklet”. For obvious reasons the name did not stick. He eventually decided to call it the Bolo Tie, because of its resemblance to the Argentine Goucho’s baleadora weapon which is used like a lariat for handling cattle. Victor went on obtain patent number 3,126,603 for the unique bauble.
The Arizona Legislature, recognizing a good thing when they saw it, passed a bill making the “Bolo Tie” the official neckwear of the State of Arizona. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jack Williams in 1971. New Mexico followed suit in 1987. The Bolo Tie goes by several names such as the “Bola Tie” and the “String Tie”. In England it is called the “Bootlace Tie”. Texans, whose humility is the least of their virtues, called it the “Texas Tie”.
Though there are many jewelry makers who craft Bolo’s, most of them are now made by Native Americans. The Navajos were the first to produce these ties, followed quickly by the Zuni and the Hopi. Navajo Bolos are usually made of Sterling or Nickle Silver, with a single polished, naturally shaped turquoise stone. Zuni bolos, on the other hand, are usually made as a tiny mosaic of cut stones arranged into a design. The design is often an Animal Fetish.
For horsemen, cowboys and wannabes, the Bolo Tie is a necessary accessory of the wardrobe. Don’t leave home without it.