The history of whip cracking dates back to the dinosaur's era. From what is known dinosaurs used their long and powerful tails as a display of force.
Based on computer modeling of the skeleton of the Apatosaurus, Nathan Myhrvold, chief technology officer at Microsoft, suggested that it may have been able to crack it's 41 foot long tail. The tail weighed 3,200 pounds and would have cracked with a volume of about 200 decibels, about 2,000 times the energy of a modern bullwhip. Myhrvold suggested they may be used as a form of sexual display.
According to human history records, whips have always been used one way or the other. In the ancient hieroglyphics we often see rulers holding a sort of stockwhip as a sign of power.
In the middle ages with the predominance of steel weapons there aren't many records regarding whips, but they were still probably used in exhibitions. After the renaissance they started to appear more frequently. With the long journeys aboard the boats they were a quick way of punishing and also a way to control slaves. In almost every pirate movie we see someone tied to the ships mast taking whip slashes.
Although being used like that its main function is to make that intimidating cracking sound that is mostly used as a way of controlling animals by fear. We all remember the circus shows where the tamer gives the lions orders by slashing his whip.
In the old west was common for a cowboy to carry a whip. But today choppers do the same job with greater efficiency.
In the movies they have always been a sign of power and adventure. Used by Indiana Jones, Lash LaRue, Catwoman or even by Xena. With no doubt the most famous of them all is Indiana Jones, he uses his whip to slash, intimidate and even grab objects or people, which is another usage for the whip.
If the slash is made in such a way that it the whip rolls around the target the tension creates a strong grip making it possible to push the target.
Today there is some whip cracking exhibitions being most of them based on the old west.
This is the most common type of whip. It's long, with a wooden handle and rawhide core. Indiana Jones and the majority of the other stars use it. It's also the tamer's whip, long and intimidating.
The stockwhip is shorter than the bullwhip but its handle is about twice as long and thinner. It's mostly used for decorative purposes. This type of whip is usually associated with some sexual fetishes.
The blacksnake is almost identical to the bullwhip. The only difference is in the handle, which is made of rawhide instead of wood. This gives the whip more flexibility making it easier to use and putting less pressure on the wrist.
This is a shorter version of the bullwhip with about 3-5 inches. It's made to be used in thight places like indoors. They are easyer to crack but also less powerful.
To begin constructing a whip first a rawhide core is needed. Then the core is wrapped in filler. That in its turn is covered by a plait, which also known as braid.
At this point the whip is functional and is very light. But optionally three more layers are added to give it more strength and endurance.
The first of these three layers is another layer of filler, which in this stage is referred as belly plait.
Then the next layer is made up by leather and called a bolster. To finalize the whip a last layer called the top plait covers the bolster.
If the handle is of a Bullwhip or Stockwhip then it's starked with a round piece of wood or metal called the stock.
The stock is then plaited over with leather. For a Bullwhip the plait is then continued on into the thong.