One of the possible functions of a staff is to aid in walking. This can on one hand be because the user is wounded or hurt in a leg (crutch) or just to facilitate maintaining the balance (walking stick). More often than not, a staff is used for the latter option longer than strictly necessary, making it more of a status symbol.
Around the nineteenth century in the western world, using a walking cane was done to be fashionable or to look of high status. Much earlier already however, it was a custom for dignitaries or people of certain professions, such as bishops, monarchs (scepters) but also jesters, to use a staff to indicate their position.
Besides these, shepherds and similar also used staffs (crooks) as aid because it widened the reach of their arms, facilitating the control they could exercise over the animals they herded.
Use as weapon
Several martial arts make use of the staff as a weapon to stab and strike down opponents.
Staffs are used as a tool and weapon of magic, and wielded by wizards or another type of mage or magician. Short staffs are called magical wands.
Types of staffs
- bō (棒)
- gun (棍)