yoke
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A yoke is a wooden beam sometimes used between a pair of
oxen An ox (plural, : oxen, ), also known as a bullock (in BrE, AusE, and IndE), is a male bovine trained and used as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castration, castrated adult male cattle; castration inhibits testosterone and aggression, w ...
or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several types of yoke, used in different cultures, and for different types of oxen. A pair of oxen may be called a ''yoke of oxen'', and yoke is also a verb, as in "to ''yoke'' a pair of oxen". Other animals that may be yoked include
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one of two Extant taxon, extant subspecies of wild horse, ''Equus fer ...
s,
mule The mule is a domestic equine hybrid between a donkey The domestic donkey is a hoofed mammal in the family Equidae, the same family as the horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed un ...
s,
donkey The domestic donkey is a hoofed mammal in the family Equidae, the same family as the horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mammal. It belongs to the t ...
s, and
water buffalo The water buffalo (''Bubalus bubalis''), also called the domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo, is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North America, So ...
.


Etymology

The word "yoke" is believed to derive from
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-E ...
*yugóm (yoke), from root *''yewg''- (join, unite), and is thus
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ...
with ''
yoga Yoga (; sa, योग, lit=yoke' or 'union ) is a group of Asana, physical, mental, and Spirituality#Asian traditions, spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in History of India, ancient India and aim to control (yoke) and Ś ...
''. This root has descendants in almost all known
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
including German ''Joch'',
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
''iugum'',
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
ζυγόν (''zygon''), Persian یوغ (''yuğ''),
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had Trans-cul ...
युग (''yugá''), Hittite 𒄿𒌑𒃷 (iúkan),
Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic () was the first Slavic languages, Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine Empire, Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with Standard language, standardizing the lan ...
иго (''igo''), Lithuanian ''jungas'',
Old Irish Old Irish, also called Old Gaelic ( sga, Goídelc, Ogham, Ogham script: ᚌᚑᚔᚇᚓᚂᚉ; ga, Sean-Ghaeilge; gd, Seann-Ghàidhlig; gv, Shenn Yernish or ), is the oldest form of the Goidelic languages, Goidelic/Gaelic language for which ...
''cuing'', and Armenian լուծ (''luts''), all meaning "yoke".


Neck or bow yoke

A ''bow yoke'' is a shaped wooden crosspiece bound to the necks of a pair of
oxen An ox (plural, : oxen, ), also known as a bullock (in BrE, AusE, and IndE), is a male bovine trained and used as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castration, castrated adult male cattle; castration inhibits testosterone and aggression, w ...
(or occasionally to horses). It is held on the animals' necks by an oxbow, from which it gets its name. The oxbow is usually U-shaped and also transmits force from the animals' shoulders. A swivel between the animals, beneath the centre of the yoke, attaches to the pole of a vehicle or to chains ( traces) used to drag a load. Bow yokes are traditional in
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
, and in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country by ...
and
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
.


Head yoke

A ''head yoke'' fits onto the head of the oxen. It usually fits behind the horns, and has carved-out sections into which the horns fit; it may be a single beam attached to both oxen, or each ox may have a separate short beam. The yoke is then strapped to the horns of the oxen with yoke straps. Some types fit instead onto the front of the head, again strapped to the horns, and ox pads are then used for cushioning the forehead of the ox (see picture). A tug pole is held to the bottom of the yoke using yoke irons and chains. The tug pole can either be a short pole with a chain attached for hauling, or a long pole with a hook on the end that has no chain at all. Sometimes the pole is attached to a wagon and the oxen are simply backed over this pole, the pole is then raised between them and a backing bolt is dropped into the chains on the yoke irons in order to haul the wagon. Head yokes are used in southern Europe, much of
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
and in
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...
.


Withers yoke

A ''withers yoke'' is a yoke that fits just in front of the
withers The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades of an animal, typically a quadruped. In many species, it is the tallest point of the body. In horses and dogs, it is the standard place to measure the animal's height. In contrast, cattle are ...
, or the shoulder blades, of the oxen. The yoke is held in position by straps, either alone or with a pair of wooden staves on either side of the ox's withers; the pull is however from the yoke itself, not from the staves. Withers yokes particularly suit
zebu The zebu (; ''Bos indicus'' or ''Bos taurus indicus''), sometimes known in the plural as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in the Indian sub-continent. Zebu are characterised by a fatty h ...
cattle, which have high humps on their withers. Withers yokes are widely used in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
, where
zebu The zebu (; ''Bos indicus'' or ''Bos taurus indicus''), sometimes known in the plural as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in the Indian sub-continent. Zebu are characterised by a fatty h ...
cattle are common.


Comparison

Although all three yoke types are effective, each has its advantages and disadvantages. As noted above, withers yokes suit zebu cattle, and head yokes can of course only be used for animals with suitable horns. Head yokes need to be re-shaped frequently to fit the animals' horns as they grow; unlike other types, a single-beam head yoke fixes the heads of the oxen apart, helping them to stand quietly without fighting. A single-beam head yoke may offer better braking ability on downhill grades and appears to be preferred in rugged mountainous areas such as Switzerland, Spain and parts of Italy. Bow yokes need to be the correct size for the animal, and new ones are often made as an animal grows, but they need no adjustment in use. Whichever type is used, various lengths of yoke may be required for different agricultural implements or to adjust to different crop-row spacings.


Single yoke

A yoke may be used with a single animal. Oxen are normally worked in pairs, but
water buffalo The water buffalo (''Bubalus bubalis''), also called the domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo, is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North America, So ...
in Asian countries are commonly used singly, with the aid of a bow-shaped withers yoke. Use of single bow or withers yokes on oxen is documented from North America, China, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Switzerland, and several designs of single head or forehead yoke are recorded in Germany.


Symbolism

The yoke has connotations of subservience and toiling; in some ancient cultures it was traditional to force a vanquished enemy to pass beneath a symbolic yoke of spears or swords. The yoke may be a metaphor for something oppressive or burdensome, such as
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structu ...
,
imperialism Imperialism is the state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas, often through employing hard power (economic powe ...
, corvée,
tribute A tribute (; from Latin ''tributum'', "contribution") is wealth, often Gifts in kind, in kind, that a party gives to another as a sign of submission, allegiance or respect. Various ancient states Tributary state, exacted tribute from the ruler ...
, or
conscription Conscription (also called the draft in the United States) is the state-mandated enlistment of people in a national service, mainly a military service. Conscription dates back to Ancient history, antiquity and it continues in some countries to th ...
, as in the expressions the " Norman Yoke" (in England), the "
Tatar Yoke The Mongol Empire invaded and conquered Kievan Rus' in the 13th century, destroying numerous southern cities, including the largest cities, Kiev (50,000 inhabitants) and Chernihiv (30,000 inhabitants), with the only major cities escaping destr ...
" (in Russia), or the " Turkish Yoke" (in the Balkans). The metaphor can also refer to the state of being linked or chained together by contract or marriage, similar to a pair of oxen. This sense is also the source of the word
yoga Yoga (; sa, योग, lit=yoke' or 'union ) is a group of Asana, physical, mental, and Spirituality#Asian traditions, spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in History of India, ancient India and aim to control (yoke) and Ś ...
, as linking with the divine. The yoke is frequently used metaphorically in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, first in Genesis regarding
Esau Esau ''Ēsaû''; la, Hesau, Esau; ar, عِيسَوْ ''‘Īsaw''; meaning "hairy"Easton, M. ''Illustrated Bible Dictionary'', (, , 2006, p. 236 or "rough".Mandel, D. ''The Ultimate Who's Who in the Bible'', (.), 2007, p. 175 is the elder son o ...
. In the 20th century, the yoke and arrows became a political symbol of the Falange political movement in Spain.Wendy Parkins. ''Fashioning the body politic: dress, gender, citizenship''. Oxford, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Berg, 2002. Pp. 178


Gallery

File:Ploughing a paddy field with oxen, Umaria district, MP, India.jpg, Yoke on bullock used for ploughing, India File:Portage-prospector.jpg, Using a yoke to carry (
portage Portage or portaging (Canadian English, Canada: ; ) is the practice of carrying water craft or cargo over land, either around an obstacle in a river, or between two bodies of water. A path where items are regularly carried between bodies of wate ...
) a canoe between lakes


See also

*
Whippletree (mechanism) A whippletree, or whiffletree, is a mechanism to distribute force evenly through mechanical linkage, linkages. It is also referred to as an equalizer, leader bar, or double tree. It consists of a bar pivoted at or near the centre, with force appl ...
- a similar pivot device used behind
draught animal A working animal is an animal, usually domestication, domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to human uses of animals, perform tasks instead of being animal slaughter, slaughtered to harvest animal products. Some are used for their ph ...
s to even out their pull * Carrying pole - also known as a milkmaid's yoke * Oxbow *
Horse collar A horse collar is a part of a horse harness that is used to distribute the load around a horse's neck and shoulders when pulling a wagon or plough. The collar often supports and pads a pair of curved metal or wooden pieces, called Horse harness ...


References


External links


Information on how a yoke is carved
(ISCOWP)

(ISCOWP) {{Authority control Animal equipment