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Bowyangs are, usually leather, thongs used to hold trousers legs up so that the wearer can squat or bend often without dragging the waist-belt down to the point where the trousers fall off. The thong, string, or whaterver, is tied above the calf muscle of the lower leg and in such a way as to hold a suitable amount of the upper leg of the trouser above the knee. A bowyang is a single piece of the tie. These devices are commonly used in Australia and New Zealand by agricultural workers and those who frequently work in a stooped position. Bowyangs keep mice from running up the wearer's legs and inside the trousers during mice-plagues. They are a particular feature of the dress of a shearer and used, nowadays, worldwide by them. In fact, a shearer not wearing bowyangs is not a real shearer.

Bowyangs are also the straps that pilots, and other flight-crew, wear just below the knee that connects to their ejection-seat mechanism in such a way that the seat's ejection stroke hauls both legs back against the seat (to clear the instrument panel above) and restrains them from flailing about in the slipstream before the seat is slowed and steadied. The attachment is released as the pilot is released from the seat during its automatic sequencing. This colloquial use of bowyangs was started in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and spread, via the seat-manufacturer, to other air forces.

Bowyangs were simple leather thongs tied usually just below the knee,possibly as an immediate tourniquet for snake bites. Agricultural workers sometimes had an extra pair around the ankles to prevent grain from entering the boots. Gaiters were just that, totally separate items.


  • [1] Macquarie Dictionary Fourth Edition
  • [2] Martin-Baker

See also