The origins of the bullwhip are also a matter for debate and, given the perishable nature of leather, are likely to remain so. There are claims that it was developed in South America where, like "cow-whips" during the slave trade, it was used as a weapon, or that it arrived there from Spain, but Roman mosaics and earthenware dating to around the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD show what appear to be whips,
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as rural economies became increasingly mechanized, demand for all types of whips diminished. By the middle of the 20th century, bullwhip making was a dying craft, with only a few craftsmen left making good quality whips.
In the later half of the 20th century, attempts to preserve traditional crafts, along with a resurgence of interest in Western performance arts and the release of films such as the motion pictures Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels in which the hero, Indiana Jones, uses a bullwhip as both a tool and a weapon, led to an increased interest in whip cracking as a hobby and performance art, as well as a competitive sport. Whip cracking competitions focus on the completion of complex multiple cracking routines and precise target work