Nudity

By our standards, the Gehennese are very casual about clothing. Though it is not the done thing to go about unclothed in public, and while it is embarrassing to be under-dressed on formal occasions, there is no real nudity taboo. Nudity may be inappropriate or over-casual in many circumstances, but it is not offensive or obscene. People wear clothes for protection and adornment and especially as status symbols, not for modesty.

In Gehennum small children are usually not clothed except on special occasions, e.g. for parties and ceremonies.

The Gehennese naturally go nude to swim and to bathe. Public bathing, either in pools and streams or in elaborate public baths, is usual. Only the very wealthy have bathrooms in their houses, and those are usually used only by the elderly and by women.

Some sports such as archery call for protective kit, but apart from that nudity is the rule in athletic pursuits. Everyone is nude at the gymnasium, and the participants at least are naked at games.

People do not wear anything in occupations that would rapidly soil or especially damage clothes, except such protective clothing as might be required. So peasants planting rice, potters handling clay, fullers, dyers, butchers, and even surgeons usually work nude. So, for similar reasons, do people who are working small boats. Whereas on the other hand blacksmiths and foundry workers usually wear a hide wrapped and tied around their bodies or a leather peplos.

Flyers usually wear nothing on their upper torso because it would foul their wings. They favour the sarong and the zoma. Merfolk (or at least those who stick to a semi-aquatic way of life) eschew all garments of cloth as uncomfortable when wet and never dry. They will sometimes wear a tool-belt of woven palm fibre, but otherwise seldom dress beyond wearing a cord around their waist, a necklace, or a bow to tie back their hair. They proclaim status with jewellery and ornaments.

Finally: cloth is rather expensive. The poor sometimes can't afford clothes, or only for "best".


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.