The Cat of Nine Tails is a fearsome weapon that has been employed throughout history for the purpose of punishment. This implement consists of a handle and nine knotted (Blood Knot) lashes, each of which is made from rope or even leather. The whip was designed to cause excruciating pain upon impact, with the number of lashes delivered dependent upon the severity of the crime committed. The Cat of Nine Tails has been utilised by many different cultures, from ancient Rome to the British Royal Navy, and is often associated with acts of brutality and authoritarianism. Despite its brutal reputation, the whip continues to be studied by scholars and historians alike, as it represents an important aspect of our shared human history. For more detailed information on Cat of Nine Tails Wikipedia.
How to Make a Cat of Nine Tails
I have already made two cat o nine tails in the past, but I thought this time I would record my progress of making this one. For this particular cat of nine tails used polished hemp, white cotton and also some large diameter bamboo. There is not reason why you could not substitute the bamboo for a larger diameter rope as your handle.
Tying a Star Knot for the Car of Nine Tails
I started off by measuring nine pieces of my polished hemp cord of the same length. I then used 7 of the pieces and tied a star knot that was wrapped around the remaining two pieces of hemp. The idea was that the remaining two pieces would then be used to hang the cat o nine tails when not in use. You can find more information here on How to Tie a Star Knot.
Bamboo Handle for Cat of Nine Tails
Once the star knot was completed I would then pass the 9 lengths of cord through the centre of the bamboo that would act as the handle for my cat. The bamboo handle was then covered in a Turks Head 4 Bight by 19 Leads, using thinner polished hemp and the white cotton cord to make if more decorative. I also wanted to leave some of the bamboo showing, as it is a rather nice wood visually.
I gave the handle a little more decoration and included a globe type knot at the end to lock the nine tails in place. To be able to hang the Cat o Nine Tails is added a decorative Sailor’s Lanyard Knot to then end. Within each of the nine tails I tied three rows of Blood Knots in each length (to inflict more pain).
During the process of making the cat of nine tails I also made a finishing solution of 50% PVA (wood glue) to 50% water, which I coated onto the knots of the handle. I find this protects the knot work and I can then wash it in future if it gets grubby. I often use this finishing solution on a lot of my work. Some people may frown on this and suggest that a more natural solution should be used.
……… and then here is the finished Cat O Nine Tails.
Here is another example of a cat of nine tails using French Whipping on the Handle:
Bell Ropes, Cats of Nine Tails and Ditty Bags
It is worth noting, that if you can create a beautiful cat of nine tails, you have also in a sense created a Ditty Bag handle and also the main body of a bell rope. The great thing about making any of these three, they are a great way of showing of your current knotting skills.
Using Bamboo as a form of Puddening
The main body of the Cat o Nine Tails in this particular case is using bamboo as a form of Puddening. Click on this link if you want to know more about the technique of Puddening.
Is the cat of nine tails still used today?
The use of the cat of nine tails as a form of punishment is extremely rare in modern times. It is generally considered an outdated and excessively cruel method of discipline. Today, most countries have abolished corporal punishment, and alternative methods of rehabilitation and correction are employed.
Was the cat of nine tails exclusively used on adults?
No, the cat of nine tails was not exclusively used on adults. In some cases, it was also used to discipline juveniles or minors who were subject to corporal punishment. However, societal attitudes towards such forms of punishment have evolved, and the use of the cat of nine tails is now largely discontinued.