Bullwhip

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Bullwhip
Bullwhip.jpg
A bullwhip
Types Whip, pastoral, hand tool
Used with Livestock

A bullwhip is a single-tailed whip, usually made of braided leather or nylon, designed as a tool for working with livestock or competition.

Contents

Bullwhips are pastoral tools, traditionally used to control livestock in open country. A bullwhip's length, flexibility, and tapered design allows it to be thrown in such a way that, toward the end of the throw, part of the whip exceeds the speed of sound—thereby creating a small sonic boom. [1] The bullwhip was rarely, if ever, used to strike cattle, as this could inflict damage to the animal.[ citation needed ]

The bullwhip should not be confused with the stockwhip, an Australian whip also used to control livestock but having a somewhat different structure.

History

The origins of the bullwhip are also a matter for debate and, given the perishable nature of leather, are likely to remain so. Difficulties in tracing its development also arise from regional and national variations in nomenclature. There are claims that it was developed in South America where, like "cow-whips" during the slave trade, it was used as a weapon, or that it arrived there from Spain, but Roman mosaics [2] and earthenware [3] dating to around the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD show what appear to be tapered drop-lash whips, rather than the two-piece whips often associated with the Romans and other ancient cultures. Given that the same basic design appears in several primary sources, it seems likely that this is not a stylistic coincidence but a depiction of a design of whip in current use at the time the articles were made. [4]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as rural economies became increasingly mechanized, demand for all types of whips diminished. By the middle of the 20th century, bullwhip making was a dying craft, with only a few craftsmen left making good quality whips.

In the later half of the 20th century, attempts to preserve traditional crafts, along with a resurgence of interest in Western performance arts and the release of films such as Devo's "Whip It" video and the motion pictures Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels in which the hero, Indiana Jones, uses a bullwhip as both a tool and a weapon, [5] led to an increased interest in whip cracking as a hobby and performance art, as well as a competitive sport. Whip cracking competitions focus on the completion of complex multiple cracking routines and precise target work; although other whips are also used in such competitions.

Whereas, in times past, the bullwhip was designed for one basic, main purpose, modern whip makers design their whips for different specific purposes and to suit different throwing styles. Regardless of their intended end use, all bullwhips have certain common features.

Anatomy of the bullwhip

A bullwhip consists of a handle section, a thong, a fall, and a cracker. A wrist loop may also be present, although its chief purpose is for hanging one's whip on a hook. Aesthetically, it finishes the handle.

The main portion of the bullwhip's length is made up of a braided body or thong. Made of many strips of leather or nylon, the number of braids or plaits is an important factor in the construction of the whip. Often the thong is multi-layered, having one or more "bellies" in the center. Quality whips have at least two bellies, made of braided leather like the surface of the whip, though with fewer plaits. Lower-quality whips may have no bellies at all, and are sometimes stuffed with materials such as newspaper or electrical tape which will break down with use. Unlike in the Australian stock whip, the thong connects in line with the handle (rather than with a joint), or sometimes completely covers the handle.

The handle is usually short, being between 20 and 30 cm (8 and 12 in) long. While some whips have an exposed wooden grip, others have an intricately braided leather or nylon covered handle. Leather-covered handles usually contain a butt foundation, which is held in the palm of the hand when cracking, and can have a wrist loop, used for hanging the whip at the end of the day, not for putting around the wrist during use. Nylon handles usually have a Turks knot at the end and may have a loop they also might have a pattern due to the fact that they can have many colors. Some handles swivel, making it easier to do certain types of unsophisticated cracks but making it harder to do others, or to use the whip for any type of accurate targeting. The Australians introduced a longer handled bullwhip to the US, where the bullwhips traditionally had shorter handles. The longer handled whip, with a handle of 25–35 cm (10–14 in), functions like a cross between a stockwhip and a bullwhip, and is referred to as a "Target Whip."

Bullwhips are usually measured from the butt of the handle to the end of the plaiting of the thong. The thong typically terminates at a fall hitch—a series of half hitches that neatly tie the replaceable fall (or tail) to the whip. Whips range in length from 1 metre (3 ft) to very long bullwhips of 6 metres (20 ft) with some examples being even longer.

A fall is a single piece of leather or nylon cord between 25 and 75 cm (10 and 30 in) in length. It was traditionally made to be replaceable due to the extreme stresses the very end of the whip was subjected to as it was "cracked". Of course, it is much easier to replace a solid piece of leather than to re-plait the whole of the whip. In lesser quality whips the fall can also be a continuation of one of the strands used in plaiting the overlay or the fall can be an extension of the core of the whip, with the strands from the overlay tied off, and the core continuing on as the fall. But these types of falls do not allow for replacement and thus are not practical.

A cracker, which is part of a bullwhip or stockwhip. Cracker.jpg
A cracker, which is part of a bullwhip or stockwhip.

Tied to the end of the flexible fall, is an even more flexible piece of string or nylon cord or wire called the cracker or the popper. Some sources state that the cracker is the portion of the whip that makes the loud noise known as the sonic boom,[ citation needed ] but this is misleading. A whip without a cracker will still make a sonic boom, but it will be less audible unless you are standing directly in front of it. The cracker functions to disperse the sound so it can be heard more easily. Cracking a whip causes wear to the cracker, and well used whips frequently require new crackers. Crackers can be made of horsehair, twine, string, nylon, polypropylene, silk, polyester or any number of materials. There are several methods of tying the cracker to the fall, usually using a larks head knot as the basis since it tightens on itself when the whip is cracked, reducing the chance the cracker will slip off the fall and be sent flying into the air.

Bullwhips come in many different weights, materials, and designs. Some light whips use shot loading or lead weighting to affect their balance. Though usually made of strips of leather, nylon whips (often using paracord) have become popular—they were initially developed for use in the wetlands of Florida specifically, where leather is difficult to maintain hence the name "Florida Cow Whip" but have recently[ when? ] gained in popularity because they are less expensive than leather. In the old days in America, regular cowhide, rawhide and oxhide leathers were most commonly used for the construction of bullwhips because they were readily available. They tend to be quite thick and sturdy and are good for harsh conditions. Some whip-crackers doing target work prefer a whip made of kangaroo skin and kangaroo hide is preferred by whip makers because it is many times stronger than cow hide and can be cut into fine, strong laces allowing for more intricate braiding patterns that in the past could only be done with rawhide, which is much harder to work with.

Use as hunting weapon

Simon Tookoome, a Canadian Inuit and expert bullwhip handler, was known to have used one to hunt ptarmigans and caribou, and to kill a wolf:

Tookoome took the advice to heart and began hunting bigger animals [than ptarmigans] with the whip, even after his family acquired a rifle and a snowmobile. He took down several caribou, and once even used it to kill a wolf that he had shot and injured. He kept the whip with him because operating a rifle was too expensive.

Edmonton Journal (December 18, 2005) [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Knout Scourge-like multiple whip

A knout is a heavy scourge-like multiple whip, usually made of a series of rawhide thongs attached to a long handle, sometimes with metal wire or hooks incorporated. The English word stems from a spelling-pronunciation of a French transliteration of the Russian word кнут (knut), which simply means "whip".

Sonic boom Sound created by a object going as fast as the speed of sound

A sonic boom is a sound associated with shock waves created when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding similar to an explosion or a thunderclap to the human ear. The crack of a supersonic bullet passing overhead or the crack of a bullwhip are examples of a sonic boom in miniature.

Braid Complex structure or pattern formed by interlacing two or more strands of flexible material

A braid is a complex structure or pattern formed by interlacing two or more strands of flexible material such as textile yarns, wire, or hair. Braids have been made for thousands of years, in many different cultures around the world, for a variety of uses.

Whip Tool used to train animals either by sound or physical pain.

A whip is a tool designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance or fear of pain. They can also be used without inflicting pain, for audiovisual cues, such as in equestrianism. They are generally either a firm stick designed for direct contact, or a flexible line requiring a specialized swing. The former is easier and more precise, the latter offers longer reach and greater force. A hunting whip combines a firm stick with a flexible line.

Lanyard

A lanyard is a cord or strap worn around the neck, shoulder, or wrist to carry such items as keys or identification cards. In the military, lanyards were used to fire an artillery piece or arm the fuze mechanism on an air-dropped bomb by pulling out a cotter pin when it leaves the aircraft. They are also used to attach a pistol to a body so that it can be dropped without being lost. Aboard a ship, it may refer to a piece of rigging used to secure or lower objects.

Cat o nine tails

The cat o' nine tails, commonly shortened to the cat, is a type of multi-tailed flail that originated as an implement for severe physical punishment, notably in the Royal Navy and British Army, and also as a judicial punishment in Britain and some other countries.

Quirt

A quirt is a short whip associated with the Southwestern United States. It often has a braided leather lash.

Crop (implement) Short type of whip without a lash, used in horseback riding

A crop, sometimes called a riding crop or hunting crop, is a short type of whip without a lash, used in horse riding, part of the family of tools known as horse whips.

Florida cracker

Florida crackers were colonial-era British and American pioneer settlers in what is now the US state of Florida; the term is also applied to their descendants, to the present day, and their subculture among White Southerners. The first crackers arrived in 1763 after Spain traded Florida to Great Britain following the latter's victory over France in the Seven Years' War, though much of traditional Florida cracker folk culture dates to the 19th century.

Parachute cord

Parachute cord is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. This cord is now used as a general purpose utility cord. This versatile cord was used by astronauts during the 82nd Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hobble (device)

A hobble, or spancel, is a device which prevents or limits the locomotion of an animal, by tethering one or more legs. Although hobbles are most commonly used on horses, they are also sometimes used on other animals. On dogs, they are used especially during force-fetch training to limit the movement of a dog's front paws when training it to stay still. They are made from leather, rope, or synthetic materials such as nylon or neoprene. There are various designs for breeding, casting, and mounting horses.

Rebenque is the shared name in South American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese for a type of whip used by gauchos in South America.

Eye splice

The eye splice is a method of creating a permanent loop in the end of a rope by means of rope splicing.

Bullocky

A bullocky is an Australian English term for the driver of a bullock team. The American term is bullwhacker. Bullock drivers were also known as teamsters or carriers.

Cracker (term) Racial epithet against white people

Cracker, sometimes white cracker or cracka, is a racial epithet directed towards white people, used especially with regard to poor rural whites in the Southern United States. It is sometimes used in a neutral context in reference to a native of Florida or Georgia.

Whipcracking

Whipcracking is the act of producing a cracking sound through the use of a whip. Used during livestock driving and horse riding, it has also become an art. A rhythmic whipcracking belongs to the traditional culture among various Germanic peoples of Bavaria (Goaßlschnalzen), various Alpine areas (Aperschnalzen), Austria, and Hungary (Ostorozás). Today it is a performing art, a part of rodeo show in United States, a competitive sport in Australia and increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, where it crosses boundaries of sport, hobby and performance.

Stockwhip

A stockwhip is a type of whip made of a long, tapered length of flexible, plaited leather or nylon with a stiff handle and thong able to pivot along the handle easily. Stock whips are used when mustering cattle.

Cracker, crackers or The Crackers may refer to:

Watch strap Bracelet that straps a watch to the wrist

A watch strap, watch band,watch bracelet or watch belt is a bracelet that straps a wrist watch onto the wrist. Watch straps may be made of leather, plastic, rubber, cloth, or metal, sometimes in combination. It can be regarded as a fashion item, serving both a utilitarian and decorative function. Some metal watch straps may be plated with, or even in rare cases made of, precious metals.

String (structure)

String is a long flexible structure made from fibers twisted together into a single strand, or from multiple such strands which are in turn twisted together. String is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects. It is also used as a material to make things, such as textiles, and in arts and crafts. String is a simple tool, and its use by humans is known to have been developed tens of thousands of years ago. In Mesoamerica, for example, string was invented some 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, and was made by twisting plant fibers together. String may also be a component in other tools, and in devices as diverse as weapons, musical instruments, and toys.

References

  1. Mike May. "Crackin' Good Mathematics" American Scientist . Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  2. Vroma.org Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  3. Vroma.org Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  4. http://bullwhip-info.com/whip_information/bullwhip_history.html
  5. Dargis, Manohla (May 22, 2008). "The Further Adventures of the Fedora and Whip". The New York Times .
  6. VanderKlippe, Nathan (18 December 2005). "Celebrated artist also a crack whipper". Edmonton Journal . Canwest Publishing. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008.