Codpiece  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A codpiece (from Middle English cod, "scrotum") is a covering flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men's trousers and usually accentuates the genital area. It was held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries, and is still worn in the modern era in performance costumes for rock music and metal musicians and in the gay leather subculture.

History

From the ancient world there are extant depictions of the codpiece; for example, archaeological recovery at Minoan Knossos on Crete has yielded figurines, some of which wear a codpiece. Most of what is objectively known about the cut, fit, and materials of Renaissance clothing is learned from realistic portraits, clothing inventories, descriptive receipts for payments of artifacts, or tailors' cutting guides. In the 14th century, men's hose were two separate legs worn over linen drawers, leaving a man's genitals covered only by a layer of linen. As the century wore on and men's hemlines rose, the hose became longer and joined at the centre back but remained open at the centre front. The shortening of the cote or doublet resulted in under-disguised genitals, so the codpiece began life as a triangular piece of fabric covering the gap.

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 falling out of use by the 1590s. Armor of the 16th century followed civilian fashion, and for a time armored codpieces were a prominent addition to the best full harnesses. A few of these are on display in museums today: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has one, as does the Higgins Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts; the armour of Henry VIII in the Tower of London has a codpiece. In later periods, the codpiece became an object of the derision showered on outlandish fashions. Renaissance humorist François Rabelais jokingly refers to a book titled On the Dignity of Codpieces in the foreword to his book The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Through the same linguistic route, cods became a modern slang term for the male genitalia.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Codpiece" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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