Loincloth


Loincloth

A loincloth is a one-piece male garment, sometimes kept in place by a belt, which covers the genitals and, at least partially, the buttocks.

History and types

Loincloths are and have been worn:
*in societies where no other clothing is needed or wanted
*as an undergarment or swimsuit
*for symbolical purposes, e.g. in asceticism to express sobernessFact|date=March 2007
**Mahatma Gandhi wore a "dhoti", a Hindu loincloth, as a way of identifying with the poorest Indians, even though he knew it could be taken as a sign of primitiveness.

The loincloth is the most basic form of male dress, often worn as only garment and barefoot. It has been nearly universal throughout the globe and all human history. The loincloth is in essence a piece of material, bark-bast, leather or cloth, passed between the legs covering the genitals. Despite this simpleness of function the loincloth takes many forms. A variant form composed of two cloth or leather flaps that hangs free from a belt or waistband is more precisely known as a hip cloth.

, where it was known as chawat ["cawat"] , sirat, bah, bahag, maro or malo. The cawat/maro style loincloth is an important cultural marker of the region.

Various cultures in tropical Africa wore or still wear loincloths, often as (nearly) the only traditional garment for every day use.The loincloth of Southern African Bushmen, called "xai", is a piece of skin roughly T-shaped with long ties at the corners of the arms. The free end is pulled in back and tucked under the ties.

The ancient Egyptians, both men and women, wore loincloths as underwear, the men beneath their kilt-like "schenti". These loincloths consisted of fine linen cloths in a triangular shape with ties at the two corners. The base of the triangle was placed at the small of the back and the ties tied in front, then the point or apex was drawn between the legs and tucked under the string, exactly the opposite of the Bushman fashion.

. The male inhabitants of the area of modern Mexico wore a wound loincloth of woven fabric. One end of the loincloth was held up, the remainder passed between the thighs, wound about the waist, and secured in back by tucking. (Local names: Nahuatl "maxtlatl", Mayan "ex".)

In Pre-Columbian South America, ancient Inca men wore a strip of cloth between their legs held up by strings or tape as a belt. The cloth was secured to the tapes at the back and the front portion hung in front as an apron, always well ornamented. The same garment, mostly in plain cotton but whose aprons are now, like t-shirts, sometimes decorated with logos, is known in Japan as "etchu fundoshi". Some of the culturally diverse Amazonian Indians still wear some ancestral type of loincloth.In most of (sub-)tropical continental Asia, types of loincloth such as the Indian lungi, often unisex or with a close female counterpart, remain in use as traditional dress, especially among the rural peasant communities, while city dwellers tend to adopt western style costumes. An elaborate, decorated form is also worn as the only garment in certain martial arts, such as Kerala's Kalarippayattu; like the aptly named boxer shorts, it must allow the fighters free, even acrobatic movement.

Japanese men traditionally wear (formerly always) a loincloth known as a fundoshi. The fundoshi is a 35 cm (14 inch) wide piece of fabric (cotton or silk) passed between the thighs and secured to cover the genitals. There are a hundred ways of tying the fundoshi, and in the modern age, men are coming to enjoy using patterned cloth for their fundoshis.

Men of Indo-European culture, Greeks, Romans and Scandinavians, wore the loincloth more or less habitually. (Women wore a fuller version, with ties before and behind, "bikinis" called a "perizoma", as depicted on the mosaics at Piazza Armerina.) An ancient version of the loincloth, the breechcloth, was found in the Alps on a ca. 2000 BCE archaeological find named Ötzi the Iceman.

After the fall of the Roman empire, the loincloth disappeared in Europe. Trousers of one kind or another, which had been considered a Celtic oddity in the Ancient Mediterranean cultures, were prescribed for men.

Loincloth-wearing peoples consider the loincloth an expression of modesty, but when Europeans conquered societies among whom the loincloth was traditional, the Europeans banned this garment as uncivilized and offensive to the Christian morality they usually preachedFact|date=March 2007.

See also

* Fundoshi
* G-string (also called tanga or thong)

External links

* [http://www.ikanlundu.com/literary/borneo_loincloth.html The Loincloth of Borneo]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • loincloth — n. A cloth covering for the loins, worn around the hips; sometimes worn in tropical areas as the only article of clothing. Syn: breechcloth, breechclout, G string. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • loincloth — 1859, from LOIN (Cf. loin) + CLOTH (Cf. cloth) …   Etymology dictionary

  • loincloth — ► NOUN ▪ a piece of cloth wrapped round the hips, typically worn by men in some hot countries as their only garment …   English terms dictionary

  • loincloth — [loin′klôth΄] n. a cloth worn about the loins, as by some peoples in warm climates …   English World dictionary

  • loincloth —   Malo, malo kai, malo kea, malo wai.   Also: a ahu makaloa, kapeke.    ♦ The loincloth of the handsome one … tie on the loincloth curved like the moon, the sea loincloth, loincloth of the chief. Stand, gird on your loincloth (UL 35–36)! Ka malo… …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • loincloth — UK [ˈlɔɪnˌklɒθ] / US [ˈlɔɪnˌklɔθ] noun [countable] Word forms loincloth : singular loincloth plural loincloths a piece of cloth that men in some hot countries wear to cover the part of their body below the waist …   English dictionary

  • loincloth — [[t]lɔ͟ɪnklɒθ, AM klɔːθ[/t]] loincloths N COUNT A loincloth is a piece of cloth sometimes worn by men in order to cover their sexual parts, especially in countries when it is too hot to wear anything else …   English dictionary

  • loincloth — noun Date: 1859 a cloth worn about the loins often as the sole article of clothing in warm climates …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • loincloth — /loyn klawth , kloth /, n., pl. loincloths / klawdhz , klodhz , klawths , kloths /. a piece of cloth worn around the loins or hips, esp. in tropical regions as the only item of clothing. [1855 60; LOIN + CLOTH] * * * ▪ clothing       usually, a… …   Universalium

  • loincloth — noun A garment that covers the loins (crotch) …   Wiktionary


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