Hungarian whip

The Hungarian whip is a tool made of wooden handle and a thong attached together. It is used for herding, and for attacking, defensing. If the whip is used correctly it makes a unique snappish sound, because of the “sudár” (cracker) on the end, which reaches the speed of sound (300 m /s) and makes a sonic boom. This was the first human made equipment that crossed that speed. When herding, mainly its noise were used, hurting the animals was not its primary goal.

Hungarian whip in use


It has two archetypes: the short handled type is used by herdsmen; the long handled is used by charioteers.

The charioteer whip or “béresostor” (hind whip) is the simpler one, the handle not only longer than the other type’s, but it is flexible too. The charioteer whip is made from belt; the ox driving whip is made of hemp-rope.

A Hungarian whip type: the bullwhip

The shorter handled Hungarian whip used by herdsmen is called heavy whip, but the more commonly used terminological name is the bullwhip (karikás ostor). It is often, but not generally attached to the handle by a spinning circle that is where the name “karikás” (circle) is come from. The bullwhip is mainly used by range men, the coat of arm of their craft, but it is used by even other herdsmen. The bullwhip is ornamented with carvings, braid belts and butterflies.

A type of Hungarian whip: bullwhip


The handle on the Transdanubia is made of dogwood, on the Transtisza is made of sour cherry tree, cherry tree or acacia. The weaving is made of the slim leather from the abdomen of the animals.

The bullwhip was made of 6, 8, 12, rarely 16 or 18, or even 24 or 32 tines. The latters were only made of very slimly cut leather.

On the Great Plain, especially in the Nagykunság, Hortobágy in the end of the last century a new kind of whip has started to spread. This was the wrangler whip, was also called bullwhip, but the aforementioned circles were left out.

Hungarian whip an usefull tool


The beautiful whip is not only the equipment, but the ornament, the coat of arm of the herdsmen. The wranglers from the Hajdúság have his whip on his neck all the time, no matter where he goes. If he secures the stud from horseback, he spins it over his head, and when he pulls it, the Hungarianwhip makes a snappish sound. It is said, that the animal fears the bullwhip more than the stick. The cattle are not slapped with the whip, but they make the animals go to the right direction with snapping the whip and screaming. The bullwhip is mainly used by the herdsmen of the Great Plain; the one with the longer handle (the heavy whip) is used on the Transdanube and in Upper-Hungary.

(More information: Hungarian folk encyclopedia)