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Hanged with a new rope

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 07, 2010 at 18:16

In Reply to: Hanged with a new rope posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 25, 2010 at 09:21:

: : : : Does anyone know the origin or meaning of the saying "he wouldn't be happy if he was hanged with a new rope" or something close to that?

: : : It's a folksy American saying. But the notion that people who are hanged will be (or at least ought to be) gratified by the use of a fine or special rope is not confined to the USA, and is quite old. There is a firm belief in the UK that until the end of capital puishment in Britain, it was a privilege of peers of the realm to be hanged with a silk rope. (I have no idea if this is actually true, and for our purposes it hardly matters; the point is that British people believed it.) And the Kurds of Western Asia illustrate their aesthetic sense and love of colour with the following tale: A celebrated Kurdish bandit/freedom fighter is finally taken prisoner by the authorities, and is given a last request before execution. After much thought he says "I want to be hanged with a red and green rope". (VSD)

: : [The flag of Kurdistan is red and green - you don't mention if the authorities hanging the captive were Turks: the Turkish flag's a solid field of red, with white crescent and star. There may have been more to the man's preference besides aesthetics. -Bac.]

: Ah, that certainly sheds a different light. It still ties in to the whole idea that the kind of rope matters. (VSD)

ters. (VSD)

Baceceras doesn't mention the date of the alleged incident involving the Kurd, but since the Ottoman Turks undoubtedly had official suzerainty over the Kurds, the flag was one of several flags used by that the Ottoman Empire. According to the Wikipedia, the Ottoman flag was first standardized in 1844. And when Turkey emerged after World War I as an independent nation, it based its flag, well described by Baceceras, on the Ottoman flag of 1844, with a few changes of sizing of the elements. If the Kurdish incident was before 1844 only the participants know the color of the flag, or of the rope. And they aren't talking.