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IN History & Culture ON 24 Oct, 2016
May his soul Rest In Peace. I don't know the depth of grief people have while saying this, but yes this has popularly become a fashion among people today.
Talking about the degree of sorrow and sympathy people have towards the deceased, can someone be cruel enough to kill a person so brutally just in order to punish her/him?
No wonder, that the custom of punishing a person has improved a lot today, but there prevailed an era where a few shocking and horrifying ways of punishment that led to people's death.
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Killing somebody by gradually cutting off flesh from one's body was a punishment that prevailed in China around 900s, which was banned in the year 1905. It was reserved for the hardest of the crimes.
The execution of the punishment was usually done in the public place where the victim was tied to a wooden frame. The flesh was sliced first from the breasts, then thighs. Following was the peeling off from the limbs, then ears, nose, and genitals. Later, the victim was stabbed to the heart.
This practice dates back to the time of Medieval Europe, where the criminal was hung upside down from the tree. The victim was then cut into two, starting from the crotch, all the way to the chest and head.
Because of the upside-down position, there used to be sufficient blood flow in the head, therefore, keeping the person alive for a longer time.
It is an ancient execution method where the victim's hands and feet were bound, or sometimes nailed to a wooden cross like structure. It was the worst of punishments during the reign of Alexander the Great.
Death was usually caused by overall exhaustion or by heart failure. Sometimes, to shorten the victim's suffering, his/her legs were shattered using an iron club so that subsequent asphyxiation could soon end the life.
The saddest thing to hear is that the custom still remains in occasional use in some countries.
The criminal was first stripped naked and then thrown into a large pot of boiling water. Sometimes, it was even more torturing, when the victim was first thrown into a cold liquid and then it was heated to the boiling point. The person was even raised and lowered by using a system of ropes which helped in controlling the temperature.
The types of liquid which were used comprised of water, oil, wax, wine, tar, acid, or even molten lead. The boiling liquid gradually destroyed the fatty tissues, skin, exposed muscles, eventually forming breaches in the main arteries and veins.
The Catherine Wheel was a device to increase the pain of punishment. The criminal was tied to a cartwheel with his legs and arms stretched out. The executioner then smashed the criminal's limbs with an iron hammer or a metal bar, while the cartwheel slowly revolved. This process would break the bones in many places.
Sometimes a merciful death was also ordered, where the pain given was to a lesser degree. First, all the bones were shattered, and then a blow of mercy was given by immediately breaking a person's neck or chest.
Post the execution, the person on the wheel was then hung on a tall pole, allowing the birds to eat the body of the sometimes still living person.
Impalement on a pole, one of the most gruesome methods of execution, used during the Middle Ages. The criminal was forced to sit on a thick, sharpened wooden pole. The pole was then slowly raised upright, and the criminal was left to gradually slide further down the pole only by his or her weight. The pole then emerged through victim's chest, shoulder or neck. Sometimes, it could take more than three days for a person to die, in a very slow and painful way.
Impalement has been particularly prevalent in 15th century Romania, during the reign of Vlad Dracula. He executed more than 80,000 people this way and often enjoyed having a meal while watching them die.
There was even an East Asian variant of this method. The victim was securely tied in a place above a young bamboo shoot. Over the course of several days, the sharp, rapidly growing bamboo shoot would puncture the victim's body, eventually emerging on the another side.
Also known as Skinning alive, this punishment was carried out on captured soldiers and dangerous criminals.
The execution process involved binding the person's hands above his head, and gradually cutting off all the skin. A knife was used for this purpose, starting from the face. There was another method, where the skin was first burnt, and then the skin was peeled off.
In the year 415, Hypatia of Alexandria who was a famous mathematician and philosopher was flayed alive by a Christian mob.
The most gruesome method of execution so far is 'rat torture'. In this method, a victim was left to become a prey to the rats. A large bowl filled with many rats was placed openly on the naked prisoner's body. Red hot charcoal was then piled on the top of the bowl which heated the air inside, which was to irritate the rats leading them to slowly gnawing their way outside through the victim's flesh.
Even a few people used to survive this torture, where the most of the people used to die due to intense internal bleeding.
The Brazen Bull was an execution device, which had a door on one side. It was designed by Perillos of Athens in the year 560 BC. The criminals were locked inside the bull, and a fire was set under the statue because of which the metal heated until the victims inside died from severe burns.
It is surprising to know that the scorched bones were then made into bracelets and sold in the market.
The structure of the bull was designed with a system of pipes and tubes, which was to convert the screams of the victims to the sounds similar to the bellowing of an enraged bull. Perillos once said, "The horrendous screams will come to you through the tubes as the tenderest, most melodious, most pathetic of bellowings."
Well, it is also interesting to know that when Perillos proposed the Brazen Bull to Phalaris, the latter was disgusted by the brutality of this invention and ordered to put the former inside the bull and get him roasted.
This method of execution was originated in Persia, where the criminal was contained inside a pair of narrow rowboats, with the head, hands, and feet sticking out from the container.
The victim was then forced to intake large milk and honey in large amounts until developing severe diarrhea. Also, a mixture of milk and honey was rubbed on the exposed parts of the body, to attract the flies and insects. Following this, was the leaving of the person afloat in a still pond.
The person was also fed regularly in order to prevent his/her early death and so that he/she can face the torture for several days.
Death was caused as a result of the combination of septic shock, dehydration or starvation.
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