A tawse is a variety of strap, made from leather, the applied (non-handle) end of which is divided into 2, 3, 4 or sometimes even 5 strands, usually by cutting along the length of the strap. It is an implement specifically designed to inflict pain for corporal punishment.
The term "tawse" derives from the Celtic taw, meaning strap, and the -se ending implies the presence of more that one strap. However the official name "tawse" was hardly ever used in conversation by either teachers or pupils, who instead referred to it as either the school strap or the belt.
- Main article: Tawsing
The use of a tawse is called tawsing. The term, but not neccesarily the implement, originates in Scotland, where, along with parts of Northumberland in northern England, it was used in preference to the cane in the punishment of children at school. In this usage, it was applied to the palm of the outstretched hand, for a teacher to strike elsewhere was illegal. In other parts of England, male students were tawsed on the seat of the trousers.
The best-known and most reputed producer of tawses, John J Dick, was located in Lochgelly, a town in Fife, Scotland. Lochgelly tawses were famous for their high quality and infamous for their severity. The manufacturer, in line with other tawse-makers in Scotland, restricted sales to teachers only. The stated reason was the belief the severe implement might be 'misused' in the home by parents.
Lochgelly tawses were produced in four different weights; Light, Medium, Heavy & Extra Heavy. Each tawse would be stamped either L, M, H or XH to indicate its thickness (and thus effectiveness). The vast majority purchased were H or XH.
A three tailed rubber tawse. The small picture in the top left is a side view.
- The tawse on Agony & Ecstasy
- Lochgelly Tawse
- Photo of a man in shirt and tie holding a three-tailed tawse
- Category:Tawse on Wikimedia Commons
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