06 September 2016
Male genitalia is beautiful to many men and women alike, but to many others (dare I say most), the penis and scrotum are humorous, awkward, or even ugly. I don't agree with this viewpoint personally, but many think that the cock and balls abruptly break the smooth, aerodynamic, or muscular lines of the male form. No doubt this was one of the contributing factors to the invention of clothing, along with the delicacy and sensitivity of the masculine apparatus and the very obvious nature of male arousal.
A combination of social and practical factors more than likely led to the loincloth, as a way to protect the genitals from harm from daily activities and as a way to obscure arousal. Even in societies where nudity is accepted, displaying arousal publicly can be seen as distasteful or even aggressive. Imagine the control that young men raised in such communities must develop over arousal!
Early loincloths may have been like skirts or aprons, roughly hewn bits of leather or fur belted onto the hips. With the creation and perfection of textiles however came a refining and perfecting of this basic essential attire all across the globe. Culturally identifiable variations on the loincloth like the Aztec maxtlatl, the Thai pakawma, the Indian langot, and the Japanese fundoshi appeared and their wearing became a highly developed and nearly ritualistic uniform. Many of these loincloths, where still worn, have not changed basic form in a millennium.
While some examples like the langot and the ettchu-style of fundoshi continue to use ties around the waist, most of the others are worn through a simple combination of looping, twisting, and friction. In the case of rokushaku fundoshi especially, a symmetrical appearance is achieved through a basic formula that must go back at least 1,200 years. What this does to the male crotch is: it holds the genitalia near the body for safety and support, it smooths the appearance of the crotch, and it provides an athletic V-shape that does not intentionally obscure the genital region. If anything, fundoshi accentuates the genitals of the wearer, not in a prideful way but in an acknowledgement of the masculine form and function, and with as little extra fabric as possible.
Fundoshi is a superb design, a supportive undergarment created for activity and comfort, with the usual Japanese attentiveness to ingenious form and minimal simplicity. A thousand years later, as I sit typing in my fundoshi, I feel uniquely blessed by those who perfected the Japanese loincloth (likely Shinto monks). Their design has persisted through the centuries because of it's engineering and its architectural beauty. It is a fine addition to the natural beauty of the male body.