Horse Whip Pommels With a Special Protrusion of the XI—XIII Centuries (Based on the Materials of the National Museum of History of Ukraine)

Keywords: whip, rider’s equipment, Medieval blunt weapon, Ancient Rus weapon

Abstract

To bridge a riding war horse and subordinate it to the will of the rider is possible through the usage of harness and other special equipment, which were fixed on an animal or operated by a person. In addition, a whip was used to execute the orders of the rider more effectively. The whip occured in the complex of weapons of the Ancient Rus warrior from a nomadic environment, where it simultaneously acted as a cult attribute and a kind of amulet.

The structure of the whip provided the following components: a whip woven made of leather straps, a whip-handle, which ended with a knob at the pommel. Nowadays, there are different whip pommels according to their shape, material of manufacture and construction. The parts of the handle are divided into groups due to the material of manufacture (bone/horn, metal), into types according to the body shape, and into ornamental schemes if possible. All of them are connected by the presence of a typical protrusion, which prevented the whip from falling out of the rider’s hand and, in some cases, acquired a certain visual similarity to the head of a bird, or had specific zoomorphic (ornithological) features.

Four types are distinguished for bone knobs (group I): spherical flattened; barrel-shaped rounded and with elongated proportions; with zoomorphic features; attached to the heads of the natural curves of the horny outgrowth. Metal knobs are of five types (group II): spherical; barrel-shaped elongated; zoomorphic; with cut corners; star-shaped.

In the Eastern European region, finds of whip pommels with somewhat flattened forms and small beak-like outgrowths begin to be recorded from the X c. and all items are exclusively made of bone. The round, spherical and barrel-shaped knobs with elongated projections appear in the second half of the XI c. and continue to exist in the next two centuries. Zoomorphic knobs in the shape of a bird’s head of small proportions existed for a relatively short time — XI — first half of the XII c., and items on an elongated socket – from the XII — first half of the XIII c. The knobs with cut corners are dated more widely, within the XII—XIII/XIV c.

The National Museum of the History of Ukraine contains eight items representing the corresponding pommels or their parts. Two finds are of unknown origin, and six are identified and come from Ancient Rus settlement structures of the XI—XIII c. from the territory of the Ros River region: Nabutiv, Kononcha, Sharky, Kniazha Hora.

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2021-03-23
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