Punjab Lasso vs. Hangman’s Noose
It’s pre-order day!
This is the time I get excited for my readers. I love hearing from them before a release and learning about their excitement for their favorite story to be continued. In honor of Pursued By The Phantom’s pre-order. I thought I would do a quick Phantom related post.
This… is hangman’s noose.
It is not the “Punjab lasso,” at least not in this author’s book.
The lasso is Erik’s signature weapon, and I use it frequently throughout my books. Through the years and the many interpretations of Leroux’s Phantom, the lasso has changed as much as Erik’s hideous deformity (which in many adaptations isn’t a deformity at all). Webber popularized the image of a lariat and a hangman’s noose, which is very different from what Leroux may have had in mind for his “Punjab lasso.”
In Leroux’s original novel, he emphasizes the amount of time Erik spent in India learning how to use this weapon:
Erik had lived in India and acquired an incredible skill in the art of strangulation. He would make them lock him into a courtyard to which they brought a warrior — usually, a man condemned to death — armed with a long pike and broadsword. Erik had only his lasso; and it was always just when the warrior thought that he was going to fell Erik with a tremendous blow that we heard the lasso whistle through the air. With a turn of the wrist, Erik tightened the noose round his adversary’s neck and, in this fashion, dragged him before the little sultana and her women, who sat looking from a window and applauding.
Leroux’s terminology describes’s this lasso as fil du Pendjab, which means “Punjab thread” or depending on your translation, “cord” or “wire.” In my novels, I describe it as a thin length of silk. It is in all likelihood that Leroux was referring to the Thuggee tribes in India that killed by the manner of strangulation as described in the quote above. These “Stranglers” were feared and sensationalized in French culture during the time of Leroux’s writings.
The idea of, “Keep your hand at the level of your eyes,” would do little good against a hangman’s noose, which serves to snap the neck with the aid of gravity. I would imagine doing so may break your wrist as well. I don’t know. I’ve never been hanged….
However, the hand at the level of the eyes defense works wonders against the Punjab lasso:
My pistols could serve no purpose, for Erik was not likely to show himself; but Erik could always strangle us. I had no time to explain all this to the viscount; besides, there was nothing to be gained by complicating the position. I simply told M. de Chagny to keep his hand at the level of his eyes, with the arm bent, as though waiting for the command to fire. With his victim in this attitude, it is impossible even for the most expert strangler to throw the lasso with advantage. It catches you not only round the neck, but also round the arm or hand. This enables you easily to unloose the lasso, which then becomes harmless.
So, there you have it. A bit of gruesome insight into the way our beloved Erik preferred to kill.
Ah… Happy Valentine’s Day? Speaking of Valentine’s Day, if you are new to my series, pick up a copy of Desired by the Phantom at a special price for a limited time only!