The practice of infibulation was very common in India, from religious motives. As a proof of their sanctity, many of the Santons, or Mohammedan saints, as well as other devout persons, bonzes, fakirs, and the like, devoted themselves to perpetual virginity. Whether it was with the intention of placing themselves beyond the possibility of breaking their vow, or of giving evidence of their constancy, certain it is that they loaded their prepuce with an enormous fibula, or ring; and, in their warm climate, where nudity does not shock ideas of propriety or decency, devout women not unfrequently repaired to these soi-disant saints, to admire and venerate such efforts of virtue and self-denial; they are even reported to have knelt down, and, in that humiliating; posture, to have kissed the preputial ring, no doubt with the vain hope of thereby obtaining indulgences. In some places, these martyrs fasten their fibula with a lock, the key of which they deposit with the magistrate of the town or village.

But, nature insisting upon her rights, is often too strong for this self-violence, nor can desire, or the not-to-be-mistaken sympton of it, be opposed, or even prevented, from being gratified; and since the lock, which obstructs the extremity of the prepuce only, cannot hinder a kind of erection, nor, indeed, of effusion of the seminal fluid, it cannot do more than oppose the introduction of the male organ into the receptacle destined for it.

* Holiday's Juvenal, Sat. VI., illustr. I i, note"Unbutton a Comedian." For a copy see plate VII., fig. 1. and 2.

† Monumenti Antichi inediti. Rome, 1767, fol., p. IV. c. 8, p. 247, fig. 188.

‡ Martial,Lib.IX. Epig. 28, v. 12.

Phallic Fibula

Fig. 1.

Phallic Fibulae.

Fig. 2.


Another description of fakirs were formerly to be seen in India, and, especially, in its southern peninsula, whose custom it was to traverse the country in a state of nudity, and who had been rendered impotent by the following regimen. The children destined for this penitential state are taken away from their parents at the age of six or seven years, and made to eat, daily, a quantity of the young leaves of a tree called Mairkousie. At first, the dose given them is not larger than a filbert. This regimen must be persisted in until the party reaches the age of five-and-twenty years, the dose being increased till, at the maximum, it is as large as a duck's egg. During all this time, the devotee is subjected to no other regimen, except a light purge, once in six months, by means of Kadoukaie, or the black miro-bolan. Although rendered completely impotent by this mode of treatment, so far from their physical strength and beauty of form being diminished or deteriorated thereby, they are, on the contrary, improved by it; the enjoyment of constant good health is likewise almost an invariable consequence.

Infibulation is not confined to the male sex exclusively, for it is practised on girls and women in India, Persia, and the East. generally, and most commonly consists in joining together the female sexual organ, or closing the labia of the vagina by a suture made with waxed thread, a small aperture being left for the egress of the urine and the menstrua.

Linschet witnessed the operation at Pegu, as did also Schultz, Brown saw it performed, at Darfour, on females from eleven to twelve years of age. * At the time of marriage, a cut of the bistouri dissevers the parts which have been closed by the effects of the suture. Sometimes jealousy contents itself by passing a ring through the parts. Women, as well as girls, are subjected to this disgusting operation, the only difference being that the ring of the latter cannot be removed, while that of the former has a kind of lock, the key of which is in the husband's possession. Pallas informs us that the beautiful nation of the Tcher-kesses, or Circassians carefully preserve the virginity of their girls by means of a leathern girdle, or rather corslet made of skin, and sewn immediately upon the naked body. The husband alone has the right of severing this corslet, which he does, on the nuptial night.

When the violation of virgin chastity and conjugal fidelity became more frequent, fathers and husbands had recourse, even in Europe, to a mechanical contrivance for the purpose of preserving intact the honour of the family. This was a kind of padlock, which shut up all access to the seat of voluptuousness. The invention is attributed to one Franceso di Carrera, an imperial judge of Padua, who lived about the close of the 15th century. The machine itself was called the Girdle of Chastity. Francesco's acts of cruelty brought him to the scaffold, where he was strangled in 1405, by a decree of the Senate of Venice. One of the principal accusation; brought against him was the employment of the Girdle of Chastity, for his mistresses, and it is said by Misson * that a box filled with these articles was for a long time preserved in the palace of St. Mark, at Venice. Rabelais speaks of these girdles, which he calls Ceintures a la Bergamasque, "Nay," says he, Pantagruel,"may that Nick in the dark cellar, who hath no white in his eye, carry me quiet away with him, if, in that case, whenever 1 go abroad from the palace of my domestic residence, I do not, with as much circumspection as they use to ring mares in our country, to keep them from being saillied by stoned horses, clap a Bergamesco lock upon my wife."Brantome has the following notice of these chastity preservers. "Des temps du roi Henri il yeut un certain Quinquallier qui apporte une douzaine de certains engins a la foire de St. Germain pour brider le cas des femmes.

Ces sortes de cadenas estoient en usage a Venise des devant l'annee 1522, estoient faites de fer et centuroient comme une ceinture, et venoient a se prendre par le bas, et se fermer a clef, si subtilement faites, qu'il n'estoit pas possible que la femme en estant bridee und fois, s'en peust jamais prevaloir pour ce doux plaisir, n'ayant que quelques petits trous menus pour ser-vir a pisser. †

† Brantome, Dames Galantes, torn iii., p. 138.

* Travels in Africa and Egypt.