I should mention first, as a way of better understanding terms used and what is talked about in discussions about knots, that when the word hitch is used, it' is referring to any type of knot that is used to attach a length of rope (or cord) to another object such as a post or another rope (Think of a Hitching Post, as used in Western movies
.). Remember in Part - 2 of this thread, I described that knot as a Girth Hitch tied over the cord that was looped around the wrist. This is usually not done because it requires both ends to be free when tied around something, unless the loop is made first and then slipped over the object (in this case, JonBenets right wrist).
For background, because I keep hearing the word Prusik come up, let me give a little information on it from different sources -- all cited and linked at the end of each (my bold for emphasis
Dr. Karl Prusik (1896 - 1961) (also spelled Prussik) was an Austrian mountaineer who is known as the inventor of the prusik knot. He died in May 1961 at the age of 65.
The benefit of the knot is that, when weighted, it grips the rope that it is tied around. When the weight is removed, it is free to slide. This enables it to be used in a number of self rescue situations or for ascending a rope.
A Prusik is a [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friction_hitch"]friction hitch[/ame] or knot used to put a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, and by arborists
. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord and the hitch, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device
(otg comment: There are also mechanical devices which serve the same purpose.
) that can grab a rope.
The word is often misspelled as Prussik, Prussick or Prussic.
The Prusik Hitch is named for its alleged inventor, Austrian mountaineer Dr. Karl Prusik. It was shown in a 1931 Austrian mountaineering manual for rope ascending. It was used on several mountaineering routes of the era to ascend the final summit peak, where a rope could be thrown over the top and anchored so that climbers could attain the summit by prusiking up the other side of the rope.
A prusik made from cord does little or no damage to the rope it is attached to, although some mechanical prusiks can cause damage, especially if the device slips during prusiking.
Depending on which variant is used, Prusik hitches have the advantage of working in both directions. Most mechanical rope-grabs work like a ratchet, moving freely up the rope, but grabbing when a load is placed down on them. Traditional Prusiks will grab when pulled by the tail, either up or down, and will slide either way when pushed by the barrel.
Although prusik can be used in a general way, the Prusik Hitch is a specific hitch.
The two main alternatives are the Bachmann knot and the Klemheist knot (see also the Tarbuck knot). Each has its advantages and disadvantages, mainly in how easy they are to use for climbing a rope.
There are numerous other knots these days that perform the same function, and this knot has largely been superseded. The one advantage that the Prusik knot has is that it is symmetrical, so is effective regardless of the direction of pull.
To tie a Prusik, it's basically the same as a Lark's head, (Cow hitch) (otg comment: Remember the Girth Hitch from Part - 1? This is a different name for the same knot
.) done twice.
The only purpose in this long description of what the word Prusik actually means is to show that if you hear it stated that this knot is a Prusik, you understand that the word can have different meanings; and that if you hear second or third hand from a source that the knot is a Prusik, the exact intended meaning (i.e., whether generally speaking or specifically) could have been lost in the re-telling from its original source.
(For further reading on types of friction hitches, this is an excellent article:
As you have now read above, a Prusik Hitch, or any similar type of friction hitch, may be used in different hobbies, occupations, or endeavors. So even were that the specific knot used, it cant be deduced that the person who tied it had to have a knowledge of mountain climbing, or sailing, or anything else. The only similarity between the knot tied on the paintbrush and any
type of known or defined prusik is that the cord appears to be wrapped around a number of times and then terminated in a loop from the cord.
Comparing this knot to the Prusik Hitch, notice that in the Prusik Hitch both ends of the cord are pulled through the loop that is wrapped around whatever it is tied to. In the knot used on the paintbrush, the ends of the cord (as best we can determine from the available photos) are pulled through in different directions and from under different parts of the wrapped pieces.
If this knot were tied to a rope, could it be used to scaling or rappelling? you might ask. Yes, possibly, but not very effectively, and I dont believe a serious climber would be willing to place his life in the ability of this knot to help him. This is not the type of knot that would be used by a person skilled at knot tying and knowledgeable of the purpose of a particular knot to be used in a way that is implied by its use here.
otgs Analysis (So what the hell is it?)
The way this was attached to the paintbrush, it looks to have been randomly wrapped multiple times (at least eight, possibly as many as eleven times) around the stick and then terminated by slipping under one or two of the wraps, maybe even with a simple overhand, and then tightened. There is no symmetry or apparent planning in tying the knot. It is simply a haphazardly attached length of cord on a piece of a broken paintbrush. Nothing more, nothing less.
This is, of course, just my opinion, and it is based only on the available photos of it. And I have to acknowledge the possibility that it may well be different if I were able to actually see the thing and examine it more closely. (But Im no expert and that will never happen.)
Now notice also (while were here on this knot) that the end of the cord closest to the paintbrush is not
frayed. In other words, the end is straight and at a right angle to the length of the cord, and there is no part of the braiding that is longer than the rest. This means that it was cut while the cord was not being pulled or under any sort of tension (see below for explanation on fraying). The opposite end of this length of cord, coming from the ligature that was around JonBenets neck, is
frayed, maybe by as much as 2-cm. This information will become (I think) important later on when we discuss exactly what happened.
As you must surely know, there are many different types of cord and rope, each with a specific purpose. It may be twisted, woven, or braided. Youve surely observed the way common rope or twine is made, by twisting and winding three separate strands together. Looking at the cord that was left on JonBenets body, you can tell that, unlike common rope or twine, it is braided on the outside.
, by Steve Thomas:
) retrieved one sample package, a fifty-foot length of white Stansport 32-strand, 3/16-inch woven cord that I had bought. Van Tassell (sp) pulled the cord out, frayed an end, held it against the end of the neck ligature, and said, Look. The soft white braid and the inner weave appeared identical. I think this is the same cord, he said.
So if that is correct (and the pictures seem to support it), the cord used had two separate parts: the braided outside and the woven center. With a high number of outer braided strands (32), this cord would be relatively elastic and springy. If you dont happen to have any Stansport 32-strand (braided), 3/16-inch woven (center) cord lying around the house to try what Im going to try and describe, imagine it in your mind and understand the mechanics of what happens.
When the cord is pulled and tension is placed on it, it stretches. If you cut it while it is under tension, the first portions that are cut begin pulling back into a relaxed position (their natural state while not under tension) while the remaining portions of the cord continue pulling away from the already cut portions. This all happens in a short period of time during the cut, but what you have remaining afterward is two separate pieces of cord, each with a frayed end.
How much fraying occurs is going to depend on the following variables:
- Distance between the two ends being pulled.
- Amount of tension that is placed on it (or, how much it is pulled).
- Length of time spent in making the cut.
This post is getting pretty long, so think about what Ive written so far, and Ill be back when I have time to post more. Ill pop in and out when I can to discuss what Ive written so far, and meanwhile Ill be working on the next part.