A sash is a cloth belt used to hold a robe together, and it is generally tied about the waist. "Sash" is an Arabic loanword introduced into the English language in 1590.
By tradition, Sashes are part of formal military attire. Most of the European Royal families wear sashes as a part of their royal symbol. In Latin America and some countries of Africa, a particular presidential sash indicates a president's authority.
In France and Italy, sashes, featuring the national flag tricolors and worn on the right shoulder, are employed by public authorities and local representatives. Similarly, Italian military officers wear light blue sashes over the right shoulder on official occasions. Sashes are a characteristic feature of the modern French Army for parade uniforms. They are worn around the waist either in dark blue or red by corps such as the Foreign Legion.
During the American Civil War (1861-65) silk sashes in crimson were approved for officers and red lace sashes for non-commissioned officers of the regular US Army. Nowadays, the sash has picked up a more official (sometimes unofficial) and less practical use. Sashes are used at higher education inauguration ceremonies, by high school homecoming parade candidates, in beauty pageants, as well as in teamed parties.
The modern British Army preserve a scarlet sash to wear in certain orders of dress by sergeants and above serving in infantry regiments, over the right shoulder to the left hip. The contemporary armies of India and Pakistan both make wide use of waist sashes for ceremonial wear. The colors differ usually according to division or branch and match those of the turbans where worn. In general, two or more colors are incorporated in the sash, in vertical stripes.
Additionally to what was stated above, several other modern armies preserve sashes to be worn by officers in ceremonial uniforms, such as the armies of Norway – crimson sashes, Sweden – yellow and blue, Greece – light blue and white, the Netherlands – orange, Portugal – crimson and Spain – red and gold and also light blue. In Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland, the sash represents the Orange Order. Initially, Orange Order sashes were of the ceremonial shoulder-to-hip variety as worn by the British military.