A shepherd tends and guards his flock of sheep and goat while moving from one pasture to another. He may be guarding the flock from predators or simply guiding them to the market for shearing. While engaging in this profession, a shepherd is invariably found possessing a staff of varying length with the top end being in a shape of a hook, popularly known as the shepherd’s hook. A shepherd’s hook may basically be a simple tool used by the shepherd, but it can also be an example of a complex work of art. Some of the finest traditional shepherd’s hooks are hand- made and exhibit excellent carving and craftsmanship having its roots in the Isles of Great Britain.
The shepherd’s crook is of immense help to the shepherd while guiding the animals on a rough terrain. Shepherd’s crook was traditionally made from wood or horn. The crooked handle on the top is often made from buffalo horns or ram’s horn. The length of the shepherd’s crook may vary according to the person, a taller person wanting a longer crook. However those used for shepherding have a neck crook and are longer than the “show sticks.” The market or fancy sticks are generally made of horn with the head of the crook having carvings on of birds, squirrels or dogs.
Interestingly, shepherd’s crook continues to be used by shepherds across the world. The traditional carved wood shepherd’s crook is still used by many though modern versions of the shepherd’s crook are also widely available. Some versions of the shepherd’s hook may appear more ornamental with their intricately carved hooks but are equally useful. The newer versions are made from light metals which are more handy and sturdy at the same time.
A shepherd’s crook can be also used as a walking stick though it performs a more useful function of helping the shepherd navigate uneven terrain while taking care of the cattle. Besides this, the curved horn of the crook enables the shepherd to catch a goat or sheep that is straying from the herd and also to direct the herd to a particular path. The shepherd may just hang the crook over his arm while walking on normal terrain. The Shepherd’s crook often appears in various works of art and is most commonly associated as a symbol of Osiris, the Egyptian god.
Shepherd’s crook having elaborated carvings on the crook head and which is essentially hand- made may be comparatively expensive and may cost up to 500 US Dollars. Hazel wood is generally used in such sticks which afford it a certain degree of durability and a variety of natural bark colors. The newer versions of crooks made from metals such as aluminum are lighter in weight and may cost up to 50 US Dollars. Shepherd's crook made of simple wood are also be available at an affordable price and may be equally strong and durable.