Plaited Snake Cane

The history of this cane is unknown but its symbolism is strongly Scottish. Note the well worked thistles and woven tweed-like appearance. The snake connects it to the medical profession.

A snake twined around a cane has been a symbol of medicine since the Classical period. In Greek mythology the deity Asclepius, who was associated with medicine and health, wielded a rod with a serpent wound round it.


  • This all wood design marks it apart from the other canes. Its appearance of heavily crafted carpentry suggests this cane was more associated with the ‘folk’ category as opposed to that of ‘professional’ or ‘decorative’ canes. In contrast to the strong regal tones of the smooth Malacca canes with their gold heads, the handle is merely plaited wood.


  • The decoration largely remains in the stem, with an engraved snaked intertwined into the design. It is the presence of the snake that really associates it with the medical profession.


  • It could perhaps be suggested that this was a gift to the College, with the marked medical associations made explicit.


  • It is remarkably light in weight due to its all-wood design and measures 98cm in length.