Friday, June 17, 2011

From hunting tool and weapon to ornament

I was asked by a friend a few weeks ago to make a special Father's Day and retirement gift for his father- two bolo ties to celebrate his Christian faith and his long career as a surgeon.

The chi-ro symbol, composed of the first two letters of the Greek word christos. It is also found in marginalia to denote pertinent passages, used by pagan Greeks as shorthand for the word chreston, which means good.
The rod of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine, entwined with a serpent, symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth.
I had always thought of the bolo or bola tie as an essential part of American western wear, but of course its roots reach more broadly into time and space. The word bola comes from boleadora, a type of lariat used by native South Americans and gauchos to capture wayward cattle and large birds and also as a fighting weapon. I was surprised to discover that there are also surviving examples of boleadoras from Ming and Qing dynasty China as well as from the Inuit and Eskimo cultures (where the tool is called qilumitautit).

Ming dynasty Chinese boleadora


  1. Always a warmth and softness in your pieces, even though your trademark precision cuts and clean lines. Love 'em. Hope he does, too!

  2. Just saw this comment! Thanks for such a poetic compliment.

    I had some clams on Orcas Island, but they weren't as tasty as yours!