15 February 2010

Fundoshi in art

Fundoshi are a popular subject for a lot of illustrators. While the fundoshi loincloth appears both "innocently" and not-so-innocently in a variety of manga and anime, it's still a relatively little-known garment to Western eyes, often getting lumped into the generic "loincloth" category. Fundoshi certainly is a loincloth, just a specialized and highly evolved one.

I would have liked to show more examples of artwork depicting females in fundoshi, but most of that has even more of an erotic charge to it than the images below. Trying to keep things at least PG-13 here! Also, I assume that is a reflection of the fundoshi's status as a predominantly male garment. It's not unheard of for females to wear fundoshi -- for example, the ama pearl divers have been depicted in fundoshi. And many current news reports out of Japan document the recent trend in etchū-style fundoshi for women. But as far as drawings go, the great majority are sexual in nature.

When it comes down to it, the same could be said for drawings of males in fundoshi as well. I've tried to keep the bulges to a minimum, but it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise, and genital-fixation does indeed seem to be cross-cultural. Personally, I don't find anything wrong or upsetting about that, we have a long history of nude sculpture and painting -- even in puritanical America -- and if the intent is to titillate or arouse, so be it.

Decency exists for lots of good reasons. It is very likely that the concept of decency is tied up in the very fabric of the fundoshi, something Dr. Otto Steinmayer (in his paper "The Loincloth Of Borneo") indicates is unique to the loincloth -- it draws attention to the male genitals at the same time that it contains and conceals them -- and therefore assists in governing the male force.

Beauty of form is universal.

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