Whip Used on Slaves, Barbados

Description

The whip shown in this photograph is a modern replica of an object that historical evidence indicates was used to discipline enslaved laborers in the eighteenth century. The whip was acquired by Handler in Chalky Mount, a village in Barbados, during 1961-62 while he was doing anthropological fieldwork. The villagers called this plaited leather whip a hunter and used it while herding cows or small livestock. The villagers were unaware of the history of this object. The following 18th century description perfectly fits the hunter shown here. William Dickson, who had lived in Barbados during the 1770s and 1780s as secretary to the colonial governor, wrote in his well-known work on British West Indian slavery: The instrument of correction commonly used in Barbadoes, is called a cow-skin, without which a negro driver would [not] . . . . think of going into the field . . . . It is composed of leathern thongs, platted in the common way, and tapers from the end of the handle (within which is a short bit of wood) to the point, which is furnished with a lash of silk-grass, hard platted and knotted, like that of a horse-whip but thicker. Its form gives it some degree of elasticity towards the handle; and when used with severity . . .it tears the flesh, and brings blood at every stroke (Letters on Slavery [London, 1789], pp. 14-15).

Source

Jerome S. Handler, personal collection (copyright, Jerome Handler); see comments.

Language

English

Rights

Image is in the public domain. Metadata is available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.

Identifier

NW0030

Spatial Coverage

Caribbean--Barbados

Citation

"Whip Used on Slaves, Barbados", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed June 2, 2020, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/1328
The whip shown in this photograph is a modern replica of an object that historical evidence indicates was used to discipline enslaved laborers in the eighteenth century. The whip was acquired by Handler in Chalky Mount, a village in Barbados, during 1961-62 while he was doing anthropological fieldwork. The villagers called this plaited leather whip a hunter and used it while herding cows or small livestock. The villagers were unaware of the history of this object. The following 18th century description perfectly fits the hunter shown here. William Dickson, who had lived in Barbados during the 1770s and 1780s as secretary to the colonial governor, wrote in his well-known work on British West Indian slavery: The instrument of correction commonly used in Barbadoes, is called a cow-skin, without which a negro driver would [not] . . . . think of going into the field . . . . It is composed of leathern thongs, platted in the common way, and tapers from the end of the handle (within which is a short bit of wood) to the point, which is furnished with a lash of silk-grass, hard platted and knotted, like that of a horse-whip but thicker. Its form gives it some degree of elasticity towards the handle; and when used with severity . . .it tears the flesh, and brings blood at every stroke (Letters on Slavery [London, 1789], pp. 14-15).
IIIF Manifest Download