in my tinternet travels today i have found this little interesting snippet, not sure if the imagery of a barbers pole is sued in other countries but it is used here in little old england and i can think of at least 2 places down town that both have a barbers pole outside the shop so today i found out hwy we have this as a symbol of the barber!
#3. The Barber Pole’s Red Stripes Are Supposed to Be Blood
There is something inherently wholesome about the classic red-and-white barber pole, isn’t there? It evokes images of small town main street, mom and pop stores and barbershops run by a friendly guy in a white coat. But that pole was never the symbol of a single franchise or anything — all barbers had it. Why that and not, say, a simple symbol of a pair of scissors or something? What the hell is that thing supposed to be?
It’s a dick, isn’t it? It’s always a dick.
It’s a blood-soaked bandage.
The barber pole first emerged during the Middle Ages as a sign used by barber-surgeons. Yes, you read that correctly — back then, doctors considered themselves much too classy to participate in anything so vulgar as slicing people open, so the task fell upon barbers, whose job descriptions were considerably broader than they are today. Back then, barbers did all the usual barber stuff like cutting hair and trimming beards, but if you had the cash, they were also happy to pull teeth and remove gallstones.
“Don’t worry, I anesthetize first — with some cheap gin and a funnel.”
The most common surgical procedure of the time was bloodletting — literally, the belief that you could just bleed a disease out of you. To do this, the patient would grasp a bandaged pole, and the barber would cut into the patient’s wrists, letting the blood run down the bandage, along with all the bad spirits and gypsy curses that they figured were the reasons for disease back then. And that’s what the pole represented.
It’s a little harder to explain, however, why barbers would openly advertise that one part of their job that involved stealing other people’s blood in the first place. It says something about the era that they didn’t feel the need to dress it up, the way modern toilet paper ads won’t show people pooping. No pics of smiling customers or happy slogans, just “Come on in, you’re gonna bleed all over the damned place.”