Amazing Antique Hitched Horsehair Quirt, C. Late 19th/Early 20th Century

Regular price $300.00

I'm quite obsessed with this. I wasn't sure exactly what it was when I found it, but knew it was quite an exquisitely made thing, made entirely of dyed and very finely knotted  horsehair, creating glorious patterns, with a leather strip threaded through leather loop  at the end. Incredible. With a little research I've learned a bit about the world of quirts: short whips associated with the Southwestern US, used to urge a horse to greater speed, but also, in Native American culture, used by warriors  to “count coup”--an honorable way of marking an enemy as defeated (literally touch him with this) but attempting to persuade surrender rather than having to kill him--a notion that makes this feel all the more like a magic wand. I have found a few examples of quirts very much like this one (the manner of knotting is called hitched, and from what I've learned was originally brought to the Americas by spanish explorers. There is a very similar example in the collection of the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, here, described as Great Sioux, late 19th century. Since the late 19th century, hitched quirts and other functional pieces were also produced in penitentiary craft programs throughout the western United States, most notably Deer Lodge Prison in Montana; this one could be an early, fine example.

16 “ long not including leather whip ends x 7/8” d. Very good condition, with the only loss I believe a bit of the black horsehair at the end, and probably once a leather strap attached to the base.