There is an elemental quality to rope, similar to rust or bark or clay. There is a solidity, a strength, to the image. The difference being that rust and bark and clay are naturally occurring whereas rope, whether twisted from hemp, coir, sisal or jute, is created by man rather than being of first principles.
One length of thick, knotted rope can be used to determine the comparative strength of two teams in ‘tug-o’-war. Another length of thin, knotted rope can be used in a ‘cat-o’-nine-tails’ to determine the strength of a man’s back.
A twist of rope highlights the benefits of working in cohort. When braided together, single fibres are imbued with a superhuman strength. A single strand of jute would struggle to hold an ship to its bollard, or hoist a pallet of bricks to the mezzanine floor. Or hold aloft the condemned man over the yawning gallows.