The Sciucarèn

The whip from agricultural implement to entertainment object

During festivals in Romagna, whip players, known as "sciucarèn," perform in time to the music with the characteristic crack of the whip. This tradition, originally related to agriculture, has become an artistic spectacle with competitions at the regional and national levels.

During festivals or convivial moments, you may be lucky enough to come across a truly unique show and typically with a Romagna flavor: the one that whip players (s-ciucarèn in dialect) that go to music time with their unmistakable snap. Although whip cracking is now a recognized sporting discipline with competitions at the regional, national and world levels, its history goes back a long way and is connected to the rural tradition of Romagna.

In fact, the whip originated as a valuable work tool for farmers who guided the oxen called to plow the fields with just a snap. The advent of means of locomotion, from trucks to tractors, has erased the figure of the s-ciucarèn (the Snappers of whips) from the fields, but opening the way to the sophisticated attraction of festivals and events to the point of becoming, in combination with music, a real artistic representation with an incredible neuromuscular coordination for rhythm and figures.

In Solarolo, there is a family of frustrators dating back to the 1930s. The founder, Angelo Cassani, came from a family of birocciai, and the whip was used to pace horses, but not only that. While returning home with their carts after a long day of work, the birocciai used their whips emitting bite-style pops and the women knew that they were coming to workday, each birocciaio snapped the whip in its own way, which was recognized by the respective wife who knew so that her husband was returning home. Then the whips were longer, and then the wagon turned into a truck. He also became a birocciaio, and continued to use the whip’s lock to stimulate the animals; but by now 18 years old, he abandoned the wagon for the truck, but did not give up the whip, which, for fun, he used to accompany “snapping” the village band. In the 1980s, he decided to form a band together with his sons and began, thus, to perform in the squares and at parties, turning it into an accompanying instrument for the Solarolo band, and from the band he then moved on to ballroom orchestras, the classic music of dance halls where people dance to the tune of polkas, mazurkas and so on. Over the years, the use of whips evolved and began to accompany other types of music and dances typical of Romagna folk, including modern, and majorettes.

The whip: how does it work?

As anticipated, the whip originally originated as a valuable work tool for farmers who guided the oxen called to plow the fields with only a snap. It can be produced in various sizes according to the height of the user. The wood used is that of the hackberry tree (splitter family) and inside the core is made of fibers, like those of fishing rods. Finally, a hemp or leather rope is applied and a nylon thread on top, which makes a noise because it exceeds the speed of the sonic. In the case of the Cassani whippers from Solarolo, the whippers are produced artiginally by one of the group members. The study of the whip might seem simple on the surface, but instead it requires many years of preparation.

A curiosity: the popping you hear does not occur in the contact with the floor but is generated instead by the nylon thread placed on the top. It is a characteristic dull noise that occurs because the end point of the rope passes the wall of sound in flight, “traveling” at more than 1,200 kilometers per hour.

Informazioni e ringraziamenti

In partnership with:
Cassani Whipping Group