Scythe

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A scythe (IPA: [sαɪð], most likely from Old English siðe, sigði) is an agricultural hand tool for mowing and reaping grass or crops. It consists of a long (about 170 cm) wooden shaft called a snath (modern versions are sometimes made from metal and/or plastic) with a perpendicular handle at one end and another roughly in the middle. The handle at the end of the snath could be omitted but the handle in the middle of the snath is a must, as it is used to control the position of the blade. A long blade (roughly 60-80 cm, approx. 26"-30") with a slight curve perpendicular to the snath is mounted at the other end. A scythe is used by holding the handles such that the blade is approximately parallel to the ground (with the heel nearly touching the ground) and, on completing the length of the acres in question by walking in a straight line, one performs the very last cut by rotating one's torso from side to side, as the arms maintain the blade's constant position over the ground. In a field full of many workers, it is considered dangerous to raise the scythe up in the air (for the prospect of a down swing, like a golf club), just as driving a hockey stick up in the air, with an up swing, is dangerous. Keeping the scythe down, on the other hand, makes things safer for one and all.

Image:DFRScythey (2).jpg
The curved blade of the scythe is clearly shown

Sharpening a scythe blade is done by peening the leading edge of the blade. In some uses, such as mowing grass, the blade-edge is flattened to a thickness resembling paper. After peening, the edge is finished and subsequently maintained with a whetstone.

The scythe appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Initially used mostly for mowing grass, it replaced the sickle as the tool for gathering crops by the 16th century. The scythe was developed thousands of years earlier by a group of semi nomadic peoples named the Scythians; thus procuring the name Scythe.

Image:Scythe.jpg
A modern scythe

In the developed world, it has now largely been replaced by motorized lawnmowers and combine harvesters. It still proves to be indispensable for farmers in developing countries and in mountainous terrain.

In Romania, for example, in the highlands landscape of the Apuseni mountains, scything is a very important annual activity, taking about 2-3 weeks to complete for a regular house. As scything is extremely exhausting physical activity and is relatively difficult to learn, needing years of experience to perform the action properly, farmers help each-other by forming teams. It is also why after each day's harvest, the farmers tend to celebrate by having a small feast where they dance, drink and eat, being careful to keep in shape for the next day's hard work.

The Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet in Sheffield, England is a museum of a scythe-making works that was in operation from the end of the 18th century until the 1930s. This was part of the former scythe-making district of north Derbyshire, which extended into Eckington. Other English scythemaking districts include that around Belbroughton.

Image:DFRScythe Rotate.jpg
The length of a traditional wooden scythe

The Allen Scythe was a motorised grass cutter with a toothed blade which slid back and forth across a stationary toothed blade to produce a scissor action. It was manufactured between 1935 and 1973 in Oxford, England.

If the blade is transformed so that it extends upright from the staff, it can be used as an offensive weapon similar to the halberd. It was widely used for that purpose by Polish peasants (kosynierzy) in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The scythe also plays an important traditional role, often appearing as weapons in the hands of mythical beings such as Father Time, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Grim Reaper (Death). This stems mainly from the Christian cultural interpretation of death as a "harvest of souls."

[edit] Basque traditional sport

Among Basques scythe-mowing competitions are still a popular traditional sport, called segalaritza (from sega: scythe). The contenders compete to cut a defined extension of grown grass before his rival does the same.

[edit] In popular culture

Scythes are present in a number of popular culture references, especially in the image of Death personified as in the Grim Reaper. The image of a scythe also appears in the emblems for death-related or death-themed groups such as death metal bands. The death metal Finnish band Children of Bodom has the scythe and grim reaper in every album art and. The farmer's scythe with perpendicular blade has also been included in a myriad of video games and movies, as well as a form of visual imagery in Western literature.

The Norwegian municipality of Hornindal has three blades of scythes in its coat-of-arms.

Image:DFRScythey (1).jpg
Two handles used for grip

[edit] External links

da:Le de:Sense (Werkzeug) et:Vikat es:Guadaña eo:Falĉilo eu:Sega (lanabesa) fr:Faux (outil) he:חרמש lb:Séissel nl:Zeis no:Ljå nn:Ljå pl:Kosa (rolnictwo) ru:Коса (инструмент) fi:Viikate sv:Lie wa:Få (usteye)

Scythe

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