A carrying pole, also called a shoulder pole, a milkmaid’s yoke in the West, an auamo ki’i in Hawaii,and a biǎndan (Chinese: 扁担), is a yoke of wood or bamboo, used by people to carry a load. This piece of equipment is used in one of two basic ways:
A single person balances the yoke over one shoulder, with an evenly distributed load being suspended from each end.
Two people support the yoke by resting it on a shoulder, with the load suspended from the centre of the yoke.
It is still widely used in East Asian countries, and was once also used in the West, in particular by milkmaids. It has been used in the United States, Australia, and Europe.
The basic design is a wood or bamboo yoke, usually tapered. From each end of the yoke, a load of equal mass is suspended. The load may be a basket of goods, pail of milk, water or other liquid, suspended on rope. The load may be hung directly from the yoke, without any rope.
The individual carries the device by balancing the yoke upon one or both shoulders. The Western milkmaid’s yoke is fitted over both shoulders. However, the East Asian type is carried on one shoulder. This allows the wearer to orient the yoke along the path of travel, in order to more easily navigate crowded areas.