In Samoa the only requisite garment for either man or woman was an apron of leaves, but they possessed so "delicate a sense of propriety" that even when bathing they had a girdle of leaves or some other covering around the waist.1 The Indians of Central Brazil have no "private parts;" they are grievously public. In men, the little girdle, or string, Burrounding the lower part of the abdomen really hides nothing; but it is always worn after puberty by the males, the penis being drawn up and held by it, to lengthen that organ, the latter being the most important purpose. The women use a little strip of bast, that passes down over the groin and between the thighs.
Among some tribes—the Karibs, Tupis, Nu-Arwaks, etc.—a little triangular, coquettishly made piece of bark bast comes just below the hairy mons veneris, but conceals nothing except the entrance of the vulva. It is known as the uluri. Neither this nor the red thread of the Trumai, however, nor the variegated flag of the Boroto, can be called clothing, being designed, it would seem, rather to attract attention than repel it. Von den Steinen found, however, that the males manifested shame and embarrassment at the exposure of the penis.
Among some of the tribes of the Amazon the women are clothed while the men go naked; but the natives of Uaupas reverse the custom, the men wearing the loin-clout while the women go entirely nude. The feeling of modesty is strongly developed among the Fuegians, although they are accustomed to live quite naked. They manifest it in their bearing, and the ease of manner with which they show themselves in a state of nudity, compared with the awkwardness and confusion both men and women exhibit if you look too closely at their privates. Among themselves this is never done except by husband and wife. The women wear a minute, triangular garment of skin, suspended over their privates, which is never removed day or night, and is lifted out of the way during micturition or the conjugal relation.
"With the Crow Indians of Montana," writes Dr. Holder, "a sense of modesty forbids the attendance upon the female in labor of any male, physician or layman." He mentions the case of a very fastidious young woman who, in a difficult confinement, repeatedly refused to allow him to examine her. At last, however, she consented, but not until after she had carefully prepared herself, by covering her thighs and the lips of the vulva with pieces of quilt; and this excess of modesty, you may be sure, was not the less amusing from the fact that she was a common prostitute, as, indeed, are all the women of this excruciatingly modest nation.
1 Tautain, L'Anthropol, p. 546, 1896,
2 Turner, "Samoa a Hundred Years Ago," p. 121.
"In every North American tribe, from the most southern to the most northern," writes Otis T. Mason, the shirt of the woman is longer than that of the men. In Eequimo-land, the parka of deerskin reaches to the knees; while the buckskin dress of the women of Central North America reaches quite to the ankles. This difference in lengths suggests very clearly that the instinct of modesty, and not another cause, underlay the original idea of dress among those peoples; while of the Naga women of Assam, it is said by Dalton, " there was not much clothing to see, but I doubt if we all could excel them in true decency and modesty."1 They cover only their breasts, declaring it absurd to hide in later life those parts of the body which everyone has been able to see from their births; but it is different with the breasts which, as they grow larger, require to be covered. They therefore cover them religiously in the presence of strangers, caring very little what other dusky charms may be revealed.3
Mrs. French-Sheldon says that the Masai and other East African tribes, "with regard to menstruation, observe the greatest delicacy, and are more than modest;" but the same gifted lady, through some oversight, perhaps, forgets to record the far more obtrusive fact that the males have enormous penises, which they consider it the greatest merit to display, and disreputable in the extreme to conceal.3
The African Dinka, according to Schweinfurth,* are an exceedingly "clean and delicate race" (I), "justifying the good opinion by smearing themselves with burnt cow's dung, and washing themselves daily with cow's urine.'" The neighboring tribes of the " red soil." it is said, are called " women" by the Dinka, because among these tribes the men wear aprons, while the women refuse to wear any clothes whatever.0 Lombroso and Carrara, examining some Dinka negroes brought from the White Nile, remark as a psychological curiosity their exaggerated notions of modesty.
1 Jour. Asiatic Soc.. Bengal, 41-1-84.
1 Klemm, ZeUechrift fur Ethn., 1898, 5-334. * Johnston, loc. cit., pp. 408-19.
1 hoe. cit., I, 152. H. Ellis, loc. cit., t, 12.
* I desire here to acknowledge my indebtedness to H. Ellis's admirable treatise on "The Evolution of Modesty" for many of these historical references, but to Wester-marck for most.
"In not a single case," they state, "would the men allow us to examine their genital organs, or the women their breasts, one woman, the tattoo marks of whose chest we had examined, remaining sad and irritable for two days afterward."1
The negro in a state of nature, as 1 have before intimated, is very rarely indecent, or addicted to those habits of lubricity which seem to have grown up among the race so alarmingly in recent times, in America especially. " In this land of modesty," writes Sir H. H. Johnston, " which I have known for seven years, I do not remember once having seen an indecent gesture on the part of either man or woman, and only very rarely in the case of that most shameless member of the community—the little boy."*
'Archiv, di Psichiatria, 189C, V. xvii, fase. 4. •Loe. ca., pp. 408-410.