As civilization progressed, ornamentation came to be applied to clothing instead of to the naked body; clothing itself being most probably an outgrowth of the same desire for adornment, instead of being, as stated by moat writers, a means of protection from cold and the inclemency of the weather. This is the more likely, since, in those oriental countries where it is well known clothing was first worn, cold, as we experience it, was seldom or never known.
" The savage begins," remarks Professor Moseley," by painting or tattooing himself for ornament. Then he adopts a movable appendage, which he hangs upon his body, and upon which he puts the ornamentation he formerly marked, more or less indelibly, upon his skin. In this way he is able to gratify his taste for change," and in this way was the custom of clothing the body originated. So the use of the cod-piece was originally to attract attention to the genitals, not to cover them.1
The conclusion that "shame \b a feeling specifically peculiar to man," and that clothing may have partly arisen from his desire to conceal certain parts of his body, seems scarcely tenable, from the fact that, as I have previously intimated, hardly two savage nations agree as to the portion of the body to be concealed. In fact, as Westermarck very justly inquires, " why should man blush to expose one part of the body more than another?" There are numbers of people who go habitually naked, to whom the feeling of shame is unknown; and many others who studiously cover every part of the body, in whom the feeling is very fully developed. But, setting the question aside, as scarcely germane to our present subject, if we follow the course of bodily clothing—a task far too tedious—from the cod-piece of the Botocudos, the scarlet thread of the Patachos and Machacaris, and the uluri of the Bororo, to the low-cut gown of our modern drawing-room belle, we shall find the same idea of intersexual adornment permeating it all,
Thus, among the negroes of Benin, whose girls had "no other garment than a string of coral, twisted about the middle," it would be absurd to associate such "garments" with any feeling of shame, or modesty; the far more plausible theory being, as a writer asserts, that these waist ornaments are simply designed to make the wearers more attractive to the men,1 In this these dusky beauties, however, showed a very imperfect knowledge of the true art of sexual stimulation; partial concealment of the female charms being always more effective than utter nakedness. There is little that is voluptuous or enticing,as Reade remarks,1 in "the absolute nakedness of an equatorial girl," and scarcely more in that of a white woman; but vastly much in the little slipper, or ankle, coquettish]y displayed, or the lithe roundness of limb which is accentuated rather than concealed by the clinging lines of a well-made gown, whether that limb be white or black.
Custom breeds contempt. There is no man who better realizes this than the physician, whose daily and hourly familiarity with the female form begets such a sexual indifference Si to be sometimes both stubborn and irritating. Among medical students, and artists, the nude produces no sexual emotion; and, as Flaxman observes, the latter, in entering the academy, "seem to hang up their passions with their hats."
The natives of Mallicollo, as Forster says,* by their Bcanty dress make it exceedingly difficult to determine whether they are actuated by "a sense of shame, or an artful desire to please;" showing that the ladies of to-day have by no means a monopoly of the sex's wisdom in these matters. The men of Tana tie a string around the waist and hang the leaf of a plant in such a way that it partially covers the hair above the penis, but leaves the latter organ, as well as the testicles, exposed. This is done with a very evident intent to attract female attention to those ponderous, if not at all times aetesthetically beautiful, portions of the savage anatomy, and the plan ought certainly to be successful. Boys at the age of six are provided with similar leaves, obviously for a similar purpose;1 and, speaking of a like "dress" worn by the Hottentot, Barrow says, "if the real intent of it was the promotion of decency, the wearer has widely missed his aim, as he is certainly a most immodest looking object," reminding us vividly of that naked and terrible looking deity who protected the gardens and orchards of the ancients.
A certain queen among the Khyoungtha noticing, as Lewin tells us,5 that the men of the nation, like some of those in modern times, were losing their love for the society of women, and resorting to abominable sexual practices, promulgated an order prescribing the kind of petticoat to be worn by women, and ordering that all the men be tattooed, so that the males being decorated, and piquancy added to the beauty of the females, the feet of the former might return to the paths of marital duty. Whether the expedient was Buccessful or not, I regret to say, the interesting historian fails to inform us.
Among the Muctira, in Brazil, Mr. Wallace found a woman possessed of a "safa," or petticoat, which she sometimes put on, seeming when she did so as much ashamed as civilized ladies would be if they took off theirs.1
Among the Saliras, Mr. Lohman says,1 only the harlots clothe themselves; observation, keen among the sex at all times, having taught them the fact previously alluded to, that the unknown attracts far more than the known. So in the interior of Africa, as we learn from Earth,* the married women go entirely nude, while the young damsels, having their market yet to make, clothe themselves. The girls of Australia wear a fringe about the waist, but of course not with any idea of covering the sexual apparatus; and Barrington tells us* that the females of Botany Bay wear a little apron of kangaroo skin, cut into slips, until they are married, when it is discarded.
Among the Tupi tribes of Brazil, as soon as a girl becomes marriageable, cotton cords are tied round her waist and the fleshy parts of her arms, denoting a state of maidenhood; and strangely enough this custom has a great effect in restraining prostitution, or slips among the girls, since if any wear it who have lost their virginity, it was believed the Anhanga would come and carry them away bodily. I am aware that Mr. Southey denies the foregoing statement, and says these badges could not have been invented "for the purpose of keeping women chaste, since they were often broken without fear, and incontinence among them was not regarded as an offence;"6 but other writers lean to a different view; and the fact that they were often broken does not disprove my original statement, any more than the frequent defiance of the confessional, in the Catholic Church, disproves the latter's admitted efficacy in restraining sexual immorality.