The Mystery of the Rope - Ropers Sports New
By Amy Witt
Some are just lethal with a rope. Every time you hear their name announced, you drop everything to admire their talents from the sidelines. Greats like Jake and Clay, Brent and Kyle Lockett, the Coopers, Jade Corkill, Russell Cardoza, Trevor Brazile, Tammy West, the list goes on. Now, think of all the many cowboys and cowgirls who claimed “cowboying” as their career, their livelihood, the only thing they’ve ever known.
One of the most vital pieces of equipment for any cowboy is a rope. A good rope that makes the roper feel confident, is high in quality and lay and is specific to the needs of the individual. As industries have evolved, so is the competition and the evolution of rope companies. But haveyou ever really sat back and thought heavily about just exactly where the lariat, lasso, line, rope originated from?
There is no clear origin in which civilization claimed the invention of the lasso, but it is clear that both Old World and New World civilizations seem to have been created by ancient civilization and Native Americans. Dating back to 17,000 years ago, photographs of rope-making slaves have been found inside of ancient Egyptian burial sites. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:12, it references to the strength of a “cord with three strands.” In Egypt and Rome, many photos and paintings depict warriors taking down sacred bulls, as if the rope was a gladiatorial weapon.
Before the Europeans set foot in the New World, Native Americans were capturing Spanish conquistadors by roping them. Of course, when the Spanish introduced horses, Native Americans took roping to another level by attacking on horseback.
In Mexico, the method of lassoing with a lariat did not emerge until after the hocking knife was too much of a brutal technique. As the hocking knife was replaced by a rope, Mexicans didn’t swing or throw the rope. Instead, the cattle herder placed the loop of the lariat at the end of a lance and then rode up close enough to the animal to drop the loop over its horns. At first the herders looped the lariat around their horse’s tail as there was not an adequate saddle horn.
They also realized their braided cowhide material used as rope was not efficient. There is also the famous cowboy-tall- tale of Pecos Bill. Rumor has it, Pecos Bill was raised by a mama coyote, who invented branding, horseback riding maneuvers and then later the lasso. His claimed to be the original “Poet Lariat” before even Will Rogers.
No one will ever really know where the cowboy’s weapon came from. We know the importance and significance of the rope, but to think where we would be without it, would be too hard to ponder. It will remain in cowboy history as a mystery.