The original barber pole was red & white, signifying that the location in which the pole rested was a place where bloodletting was done. That’s right, barbers (who were called Barber Surgeons back then), were the first surgeons with the responsibility of bloodletting, tooth extractions and other surgical practices of that time.
The red and white stripes symbolize the bandages used during the procedure: red for the blood-stained and white for the clean bandages. Originally, these bandages were hung on the pole to dry after washing. As the bandages blew in the wind, they would twist together to form the spiral pattern similar to the stripes in the modern day barber pole. The top basin were where the leeches were kept, and the bottom basin was where the blood was placed. The pole itself represents the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.
Today the barber pole (although more patriotic in color representation), is still the identifying symbol for barbers. Making this 6000 yr old image the oldest symbol of a profession to date.
Now you know…