Headdresses in general, and bandanas in particular, are an integral part of traditional Indonesian culture. They each serve their unique purpose, such as the various sorts of traditional headdresses (blangkon) which are worn as royal attire, or the caps and turbans worn by Muslims as part of their religious observance. Just like there is ordinary headwear for worldly purposes (e.g., protection from environmental factors, customary laws) there are also extraordinary headdresses for otherworldly purposes.
A perfect example of the latter type of headgear is the bandana which is made from sacred fabrics. It features magical spells and diagrams, allowing the person to wear it for the purpose of protection from physical and spiritual harm (e.g., human and non-human enemies). Holy headgear of this kind is deemed necessary for practitioners of martial arts in Indonesia. Besides pencak silat fighters, such bandanas are also worn and praised by spiritual practitioners, who claim that the cloth’s mystical properties banish evil spirits and thus help improve one’s meditation.
However, one need not necessarily wear the bandana in order to benefit from its inherent blessings. Indeed, it is also possible to fold the sacred cloth and wear it on one’s person by keeping it in a bag or in one’s pocket. Alternatively, the mystical item can be stored in one’s home altar or shrine. Regardless of how and where, and by whom it is used, the silat bandana’s magical quality remains the same. Its supernatural powers of protection and evasion are non-restrictive in regard to place, person, and even religion. Indeed, along with its protective, anti-black magic powers, the cloth has additional functions (such as inducing mercy and justice in others, as well as the ability to enhance one’s charisma and leadership skills) that are accessible to everyone.