Windsocks are often seen in gardens and on airport runways. They fill and deflate atop a high metal pole. Many are unaware of their origin and historical functions, which may surprise you.
Windsocks give a rough approximation of wind speed and direction. This is their primary use. They have also been used for ceremonial and decorative purposes throughout history.
Windsocks originally come from Japan and China. These windsocks were made of paper and silk, and in Japan signified the birth of a child, especially a boy. The Romans used windsocks as military banners. Some believe the wind-sail, used to direct air into a ship's lower apartments, inspired the development of the windsock in the Western world.
Decorative windsocks come in a variety of colors and shapes. Those used to gauge the wind are typically bright orange and in a standard cone shape. This makes them more functional and easier to spot.