The Costume for Water
As a creature who emerged from the water naked, Sapiens has sometimes chosen to return to it dressed--at least partially so. Historically, the immersion in water has been practiced at many different places, at many different times, and for many reasons: hunting for food, swimming for exercise, and bathing for cleanliness. Often our costume in relationship to water is quite different than our costume in relationship to land and air.
The Gods of Bikini Science
The Greeks and the Romans glorified water and developed an elaborate system of Gods and Goddesses which ruled the water. In the beginning we find Gaea, the deification of Mother Earth (and also called Ge), to be the mother and wife of Uranus, the god of Heaven. The separation of these two occurs when their son Cronus castrates his father, casts his genitals into the sea, and the goddess Aphrodite is born of the foam. Aphrodite is the goddess of sex, love and fertility; she and Cronus are the parents of Zeus. She is also known by her Roman name, Venus, and frequently spotted on seashells and in the water adjusting her long hair (B148010, B152210).
Other offspring of this incestuous relationship between Gaea and Uranus include Oceanus, a Titan and sea god, and Tethys, a Titaness and sea goddess, who become husband and wife. Together this brother and sister couple bear 3000 sons (the Rivers) and 3000 daughters (the Oceanides). The Oceanides are nymphs--beautiful and eternally young woman, associated with an aspect of nature; they are very long-lived but not immortal.
One of the Oceanides is Doris, who mates with Nereus, the wise old sea god who is the son of Pontus, and is known for always telling the truth. Nereus has seaweed growing on his head, chin and chest instead of hair. Nereus is the gentle father of, and Doris is the mother of, the Nereids who are the 50 fresh and sea water nymphs. There are several species of water nymph: a naiad, which lives in fresh water, and a nereid, which inhabit both fresh and salt water. Some nereids have mermaid form, in which the top half is a woman and the bottom half is the tail of a fish.
The most famous Nereids include Amphitrite, Thetis, and Galatea. Amphitrite is the goddess of the sea, the wife of Poseidon, and the mother of Triton. Poseidon is the elderly, bearded God of the Sea and known to be skilled at riding dolphins. He is the son of Cronus and Cronus's sister Rhea, and the brother of Zeus, Hades, and other gods. In Roman times Poseidon is called Neptune. Amphitrite's sister and fellow Nereid Thetis (JI181010) becomes the wife of the hero Peleus, and the mother of Achilles with his venerable heel.
The God's attitude of costume for water is usually nude.
The Ancient Baths
Baths--essentially public swimming pools, health clubs, and cleaning spas--date back 4000 years. They are built by the Japanese in Asia, the Arabs, the Greeks, and later the Romans, who propagated the concept throughout Europe (BB500BC3, BB500BC4, BB500BC5, BB473BC6). Many are still in use. Some baths are sexually segregated; others are not.
Depiction's of bathing and swimming date from antiquity. Women in positions of power are often depicted topless, be it Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs (EG0000), the very modern Minoans (C1600BC), or Greece before the rise of Alexander (G600BC01). Often images of the use of the baths decorate their walls and survive today (BB500BC2, BB500BC7). Decorations also include color fresco paintings (G400BC10) and mosaic tile (C300BC10).
The most famous depiction of swimwear from Roman time is the "Chamber of the Ten Maidens" in Sicily, in which bikini-clad maidens exercise in a spa (PAS300).
The first widely-read guidebook to baths is written by the Italian Peter of Eboli, court poet to the Swabian kings, during the first half of the 13th century. Peter's De Balneis Puteolanis romances the famed thermal baths at Baiaie (B122510), known in ancient times as Aquae Cumanae, the curative sulfur springs. Peter's Balneis relates individual baths with different kinds of mineral waters to cures for different diseases. The baths have been popular long before Peter's time. They were frequented by Julius Caesar and Nero, devastated by Muslim raiders during the 700s, and rebuilt. Long after Peter's time they are dealt a double whammy death blow by the malaria epidemic in 1500 and the eruption of Mount Montenuovo, which alters the geological structure of Baiaie and destroys the thermal sources.
During the dark age baths throughout Europe disappear. Widening Christian influence, first expressed by St. Benedict in 550, loathes nudity and sensuality and commands that bathing is sinful. Baths are banned in Europe in 1538. And the intellectuals of the era suspect baths may be connected to the spread of epidemics in the more concentrated city populations.
Baths also play a role in the Arab world, both in a social sense as well as in the great harems. A romantic view is shown to us with French eyes, especially in the Orientalist view of the bath, a la the great French painter Jean-Léon Gérome (JG186610, JG187610, JG188510, JG188610) and others (E185110, AM600BS). This vision often combines bathing with dance (EG188810), music, and slavery. The reader is cautioned that this 19th century view probably reflects European ideas of sensuality and pinup fashion just as much as it does history and the Arab culture.
Following the Industrial Revolution, public bath houses encourage personal cleanliness, and by the second half of the 19th century prejudices are overcome, particularly in England and the British Commonwealth.
Although the private bath also dates from antiquity (e.g. KN1200BC) is use is very limited before the 19th century, when the integration of interior plumbing makes the small individual bathroom in the home a practical reality. Here it is romanticized by Gérome (). Bathing, once a public activity, becomes private.
3000 BC--Egyptians invent bathing facilities.
2500 BC--Archaeological evidence of swimming being practiced in Egypt.
1700 BC--Minoans perfect the bathtub.
1700 BC--Minoan women in Crete wear bare-breasted bodices and gild their nipples.
1500 BC--Erotic kissing, including rubbing of noses together, is perfected in India.
1350 BC--Women in bikini-like costumes adorn the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt.
~800 BC--Homer describes Greek use of the shower.
135 BC--The first great slave revolt in antiquity occurs in Sicily, with a second occurring 30 years later.
100 BC--Swimming races take place in Japan.
80 BC--Roman Gaius Orata invents the heated room bath.
73 BC--The third and last great slave revolts of antiquity is lead by the gladiator Spartacus at Capua. It lasts two years before it is crushed.
25 BC--The Roman Agripps builds the first public thermae, the heated bathhouse.
50 AD--Stoic philosopher Seneca observes, "When you buy a horse, you order its blanket to be removed; so to you pull the garments off a slave."
150 AD--In Rome the number of bathing pools exceeds 800.
~200 AD--English town of Bath becomes a famous tourist attraction for its natural springs.
300 AD--Mosaics in Sicily show ten Roman girls exercising in bikinis. It is one of the very first depictions of this costume.
300--Indian writer Vatsyayana compiles the Kama Sutra, which describes techniques for erotic kissing and lovemaking.
400--Polynesian islanders invent surfing. Other sources attribute this date to around 1000.
496--Roman Pope Gelasius abolishes the Lupercal, and replaces it with the Feast of Saint Valentine. The Lupercal is the last of the Roman holidays to be abolished in the Christian era, and is an elaborate ritual celebrating the founders of Rome, in which five naked youths (believed to be the linear descendants of the founder of the city) run through the city carrying thongs made from a sacrificed goat's skin.
550--St. Benedict, with a Christian loathing of nudity and sensuality, commands that bathing is sinful.
~650--Theodore of Canterbury issues a list of forbidden sexual practices.
900--The shrouded look becomes popular in women's clothes, largely due to religious influences.
1139--The Second Lateran Council of the Roman Catholic Church ratifies the concept of clerical celibacy for priests.
~150--St. Thomas Aquinas arranges sins hierarchically. Masturbation rates more serious than fornication, which ranks more serious than murder.
1185--French poet Andreas Capellanus composes De Arte Honeste Amandi, a primer on extramarital kissing and fondling.
~1225--The Italian Peter of Eboli, court poet to the Swabian kings, writes De Balneis Puteolanis, a guidebook which praises the baths at Baiae.
~1225--England bans trial by ordeal, in which the accused is subjected to a physical test, such as being burned in a fire, to see if God recognizes their innocence.
1267--The flagellation epidemic in Europe assumes such popularity that Pope Clement VI issues a bull banning the processions.
1300s--Mandingo (now Mali) Sultan Mansa Sylayman requires all female slaves in the king's court and those of his provincial chiefs to be kept naked at all times.
1312--The Roman Catholic Church bans lubricious kissing and deems it a venal sin.
1347--Giovann I, the Queen of Naples, legalizes the first house of prostitution in the Christian world, and orders wayward young girls removed from the street and housed there.
1400s--Aristocratic women maintain shaven venus mons, ensuring that their private regions are not contaminated with pubic hair.
1445--The Roman Catholic Council of Ferrara-Florence declares marriage is a sacrament.
1484--Dominican monks convince Pope Innocent VIII to issue a Summis Desiderantes Affectibus, authorizing the inquisitors to hunt and destroy witches. The inquisition is not abolished until 1834.
1536--English religious authorities capture William Tyndale, found guilty of translating the Bible into English, and burn him at the stake. Giving the laity direct access to Scriptures without the mediation of the clergy is considered a capital offense.
1538--Christian authorities ban stews and public baths in Europe.
1563--The Council of Trent requires Catholics to confess all intimate sexual thoughts and dreams to a priest.
1585--The Archbishop of Trier executes the people in two entire villages for witchcraft.
1589--Reverend William Lee invents a knitting frame to weave stockings out of wool, cotton, or silk.
1600--American colonial leaders deem bathing impure, since it promotes nudity. It is made illegal in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
1603--First Shogun dynasty under Tokugawa Ieyesu institutes sumo wrestling, and with it the bare-butted thong brief for male wrestlers.
1611--Hungarian countess Erzebet Báthory invents the iron maiden, in which a subject is placed in a closed box and penetrated with spikes. Legend has it Elizabeth uses it to murder 610 young virgins, collecting their blood from a drain at the bottom; she baths in the blood to preserve her youth. Countess Báthory is the prototypical lesbian vampire of horror films.
1620--A group of religious extremists called the Pilgrims establish a colony in what is now Massachusetts and begin persecution of religious dissidents. Much of their intolerance is directed toward woman, who are stripped naked and publicly flogged for minor infractions.
1621--Pilgrim military leader Myles Standish, during an expedition to Boston Harbor, encounters young Massachusett Indian maidens bathing on the beach in beaver fur bikinis. The settlers, eager to get the pelts, trade bright trinkets, obtain the swimsuits and leave the maidens naked.
1635--The Quaker movement begins in America in response to Pilgrim persecution. The Pilgrims react by hunting down Quakers and murdering them.
1640--Matthew Hopkins in England executes 29 witches in a single batch.
1650s--Female wrestling gains popularity in Italy, where topless women battle in public arenas for prizes and are immortalized in bronze statues.
~1650--Japanese emperor requires swimming be taught in schools..
1652--The last witch is executed in Geneva.
1660--Virginia and Maryland pass the first laws in the New World forbidding interracial marriage. They remain until the end of the 20th century.
1663--Galellio is condemned by the Catholic Church for his theory that the sun is the center of the solar system and is tortured to recant his theory.
1673--Witch burning is banned in France.
1675--French tailors are forced to recognize a newly-formed women's guild of dressmakers, the couturières, and from this point forward, female customers can decide to be dressed by men (a couturier) or women (a couturière).
1679--The Archbishop of Salzburg burns 97 witches together in a tremendous bonfire that is the last of the great witch burns.
1685--The French adopt the Côde Noir, a law describing the right and treatment of slaves. It recognizes them as chattels and gives them no protection against physical abuse by their owners. It does permit them to be criminally tried for offenses not involving their masters, to be baptized, marry, and it requires that they be fed and clothed.
1692--Salem Massachusetts citizens hang 19 witches, and stone another to death in witch trials. Three other women die in prison.