Former Congressman Anthony Weiner isn’t the first politician to have had a fixation on his weiner. Today people with the same obsession must resort to sexting or to visiting gay websites, but there was a day when the rich and powerful were fairly open about their crotches.
A codpiece (from the Middle English “cod,” meaning “scrotum”) is a flap or pouch that attaches to the front of men’s trousers and usually accentuates the genital area. The codpiece was buttoned, or tied with strings, to whatever passed for a man’s breeches. In the early 14th century, this was men’s hose worn beneath doublets (or tight-fitting jackets), with nothing else in the way of underwear. At this time, men’s hose were two separate legs which left the genitals covered by a layer of linen. Originally, its purpose was only modesty, but it was soon discovered that the codpiece also functioned as a useful little purse for storing precious items like coins or jewels—and tradition claims this as the origin of the expression “a man’s family jewels.” Yet as time passed, codpieces became shaped and padded to emphasize rather than to conceal, reaching their peak of size and decoration in the 1540s before thankfully falling out of fashion fifty years later.
It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries, but is still worn in the modern era in performance costumes for the theatre, by heavy metal musicians, in the leather subculture, and by some American presidents. The codpiece is not to be confused with the athletic cup, which protects in a similar fashion.
My son Henry says the codpiece has been replaced in modern culture by the installation of noisy exhaust systems in our vehicles, especially large pickup trucks. Maybe so.
This post is a shameless attempt to boost traffic, and should not be interpreted as pandering to your prurient interests or mine; the subject of codpieces came up recently on the radio (what is Dan listening to?!), and I just thought it so weird that it deserved a photo essay.
Groove of the Day
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