One Busy Guy Presents a little history of...
What on earth could be a more useless affectation than that of a man's necktie? It performs no useful function. It is often a rather costly item. It is frequently uncomfortable. It requires a good deal of skill to learn and to fashion an attractive knot from the many available presentations.
Men put forth such substantial forethought into balancing together esthetic colorations along with personal preferences and of course social impact, not to mention budgetary and intimacy considerations (like: How come you never wear that tie I gave you last year?). As a gender, men have very limited social confines in which to display a sense of fashion. A true man can never leave the path. Men must maintain the line and never waver.
Emperor Shih Huang Ti feared death greatly and upon realizing that he too would eventually perish constructed a great burial tomb. Originally he planned to slaughter an entire army to accompany himself into the afterlife and throughout eternity. He was dissuaded from this horrific plan and instead commissioned 7500 meticulous sculptures. Each terracotta* sculpture displayed a cloth wrapping about the neck identifying it as part of the emperor's eternal entourage.
Two hundred years later (around 16 B.C.) Marcus Ulpius Trajanus (Trajan) wished to document successful military campaigns against the Dacians (now Romania). 2500 Legionnaires about 25 inches high are expressed in relief on the 'Wall of Trajan' in Rome. The figures sport various incarnations of neck cloths tucked into their armor; some are worn in the style of American frontiersman still others appear more contemporary.
Soon to follow was the 'focalium'. This throat covering was employed by Roman orators to guard against the loss of voice. Another variation was the 'sudarium'. This was a kind of handkerchief worn at the throat. Some say this was the mark of a sickly or effeminate man.
Early American Indians adorned their necks with beads, shells or needlework. Early Tibetan monks wore 'katas'. The Jewish 'tallith', and the Christian 'pallium' eventually gave way to the 'cravat'. The message of all these affectations is simple... 'I am special'.
The wearing of a neck tie has today become one hallmark of the professional male. Fashion may alter the length or width or especially the fabric and design. Despite rather inauspicious beginnings it has certainly become emblematic of western man. From time to time there has been an 'Annie Hall' style resurgence among women. Still the necktie has maintained its' posture as an enduring symbol of masculine individuality.