Asian Torture Methods

Torture is outlawed in many nations and is also viewed as a war crime if it happens during conflict.  It’s the ugly truth that no one wants to talk about but cannot be ignored.  On this Halloween night, I want to show you some methods of torture that it is said have been used in various parts of Asia.

Bamboo1. Bamboo

There is no historic evidence that supports the existence of this method of torture but there are many places where it is written that the Japanese utilized bamboo torture during World War II.

Using this method, a prisoner would be tied securely above a young bamboo shoot that had been sharpened to a point.  Due to its fast growing nature, the bamboo plant would grow tall enough within several days to pierce the prisoner and eventually impale them completely.

2. Cangue

The cangue was most often seen used in East Asia and sometimes in Southeast Asia as a form of punishment or public humiliation.  The typical form the cangue would take was usually a large, flat board with a hole large enough in the middle for someone’s head.  This hole was large enough for breathing and eating, but not for someone’s head to slip back through it.

Anyone imprisoned in one of these devices would often starve to death if left in the cangue for too long.  The board was too large so the person’s hands would be unable to reach their mouth to feed themselves.  The cage form of this device can be seen as the execution method for the rebels of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

3. Kia quen and Tean zhu

Kia quen was used in 17th century China as a method of interrogating male prisoners.  Three boards were positioned around the bare feet and connected by rope.  Their positioning would allow for the boards to be opened and snapped closed on the ankles or gradually tightened to squeeze the feet.

Slightly similar to this was the tean zhu used on women.  Six wooden sticks connected by string were placed around and between the fingers of a female suspect.  As the suspect would continue to refuse to confess, the strings would be pulled tighter and tighter.  This forced the fingers together and eventually the bones would be crushed.

4. Strappado

Strappado also goes by the name of corda and is when the hands are tied behind the back and the victim is suspended by a rope attached to the wrists.  This often resulted in dislocated shoulders and the torture often could not last longer than an hour at a time without resulting in death for the victim.

One modern instance of this form of torture happened in Vietnam at Hỏa Lò Prison.  North Vietnamese troops would use this form of torture on U.S. airmen who had been shot down, most notably USAF officer Joseph Kittinger and Senator John McCain.  The North Vietnamese never cared about extracting military information; they used this form of torture to break the will of the prisoners and coerce the prisoners to make statements criticizing U.S. conduct in the war and praise how the North Vietnamese were treating their prisoners.


5. Tsurushi

Tsurushi was used in Japan in the 17th Century to force Christians to recant their faith.  The victim would be strung up by their ankles and slowly lowered into a pit; this pit most of the time had excrement at the bottom.  A cut would be made on the forehead before they were lowered into the pit so the blood pressure would decrease.  As a result, the Shogunate almost entirely wiped out Christianity from Japan.
Torture isn’t pretty.  It’s brutal and ugly and turns your stomach.  Unfortunately, it’s something that has been rampant throughout history and even still happens today.

~ Jordan


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