What is a Yoke?
A yoke is a wooden bar that is placed on the necks of a pair of animals, like oxens, to connect them together and make them carry and/or pull objects. Many people use this beams or crossbars to bind a pair of animals to help in the transport of heavy objects and materials. Besides oxens, other animals like donkeys, horses, mules, cows, and water buffalos may also be joined in pairs and be “yoked” for a variety of purposes. In these cases though, yokes may need to be customized depending on the size and animal type.
But other than the wooden bar or beam connecting the necks of a pair of animals, the word “yoke” may also refer to the verb or action word pertaining to the joining of the two animals by the wooden crossbar. Some people also refer to yokes as the pair of animals themselves which are joined together by some wooden bar, usually at the neck area or level. These variations in definition may be attributed to the probable origins of the word “yoke”, which is believed to have come from the Proto-Indo-European word “yugom” or “yeug” which means unite or join.
Yokes that are placed on the neck area are sometimes referred to as “bow yokes” or simply “neck yokes”. This type of yoke can commonly be found in the US, Europe, Africa, and Australia. Yokes that are placed on the head area meanwhile are called “head yokes”. In the case of oxens, the yoke is usually attached somewhere near the horns. Other types of yokes are connected and placed at the front of the withers area, or the junction near the animals’ shoulder blades. This type of yoke can commonly be seen in India and countries in Africa. Different types of yokes have their own advantages and disadvantages and it is usually up to the person using them to decide on which type works best for a particular animal pair.
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