Pederasty (Richard F. Burton) — 4

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Resuming our way Eastward we find the Sikhs and the Moslems of the Panjab much addicted to Le Vice, although the Himalayan tribes to the north and those lying south, the Rájputs and Marathás, ignore it. The same may be said of the Kashmirians who add another Kappa to the triad Kakista, Kappadocians, Kretans, and Kilicians: the proverb says,

Agar kaht-i-mardum uftad, az ín sih jins kam gírí;
Eki Afghán, dovvum Sindí,45 siyyum badjins-i-Kashmírí:
Though of men there be famine yet shun these three—
Afghan, Sindi and rascally Kashmírí.

M. Louis Daville describes the infamies of Lahore and Lakhnau where he found men dressed as women, with flowing locks under crowns of flowers, imitating the feminine walk and gestures, voice and fashion of speech, and ogling their admirers with all the coquetry of bayadères. Victor Jacquemont’s Journal de Voyage describes the pederasty of Ranjít Singh, the “Lion of the Panjáb”, and his pathic Guláb Singh whom the English inflicted upon Cashmir as ruler by way of paying for his treason. Yet the Hindus, I repeat, hold pederasty in abhorrence and are as much scandalised by being called Gánd-márá (anus-beater) or Gándú (anuser) as Englishmen would be. During the years 1843-44 my regiment, almost all Hindu Sepoys of the Bombay Presidency, was stationed at a purgatory called Bandar Ghárrá,46 a sandy flat with a scatter of verdigris-green milk-bush some forty miles north of Karáchi, the headquarters. The dirty heap of mud-and-mat hovels, which represented the adjacent native village, could not supply a single woman; yet only one case of pederasty came to light and that after a tragical fashion some years afterwards. A young Brahman had connection with a soldier comrade of low caste and this had continued till, in an unhappy hour, the Pariah patient ventured to become the agent. The latter, in Arab Al-Fá’il = the “doer,” is not an object of contempt like Al-Mafúl = the “done”; and the high-caste sepoy, stung by remorse and revenge, loaded his musket and deliberately shot his paramour. He was hanged by court martial at Hyderabad and, when his last wishes were asked, he begged in vain to be suspended by the feet; the idea being that his soul, polluted by exiting “below the waist,” would be doomed to endless transmigrations through the lowest forms of life.

Beyond India, I have stated, the Sotadic Zone begins to broaden out, embracing all China, Turkistan and Japan. The Chinese, as far as we know them in the great cities, are omnivorous and omnifutuentes: they are the chosen people of debauchery, and their systematic bestiality with ducks, goats, and other animals is equalled only by their pederasty. Kæmpfer and Orlof Torée (Voyage en Chine) notice the public houses for boys and youths in China and Japan. Mirabeau (L’Anandryne) describes the tribadism of their women in hammocks. When Pekin was plundered the Harems contained a number of balls a little larger than the old musket-bullet, made of thin silver with a loose pellet of brass inside somewhat like a grelot47: these articles were placed by the women between the labia and an up-and-down movement on the bed gave a pleasant titillation when nothing better was to be procured. They have every artifice of luxury, aphrodisiacs, erotic perfumes and singular applications. Such are the pills which, dissolved in water and applied to the glans penis, cause it to throb and swell: so according to Amerigo Vespucci American women could artificially increase the size of their husbands’ parts.48 The Chinese bracelet of caoutchouc studded with points now takes the place of the herisson, or annulus hirsutus,49 which was bound between the glans and prepuce. Of the penis succedaneus, that imitation of the arbor vitæ or Soter Kosmou, which the Latins called phallus and fascinum,50 the French godemiché and the Italians passatempo and diletto (whence our “dildo”), every kind abounds, varying from a stuffed “French letter” to a cone of ribbed horn which looks like an instrument of torture. For the use of men they have the “merkin,”51 a heart-shaped article of thin skin stuffed with cotton and slit with an artificial vagina: two tapes at the top and one below lash it to the back of a chair. The erotic literature of the Chinese and Japanese is highly developed and their illustrations are often facetious as well as obscene. All are familiar with that of the strong man who by a blow with his enormous phallus shivers a copper pot; and the ludicrous contrast of the huge-membered wights who land in the Isle of Women and presently escape from it, wrinkled and shrivelled, true Domine Dolittles. Of Turkistan we know little, but what we know confirms my statement. Mr. Schuyler in his Turkistan (i. 132) offers an illustration of a “Batchah” (Pers. Bachcheh = catamite), “or singing-boy surrounded by his admirers.” Of the Tartars Master Purchas laconically says (v. 419), “They are addicted to Sodomie or Buggerie.” The learned casuist Dr. Thomas Sanchez the Spaniard had (says Mirabeau in Kadhésch) to decide a difficult question concerning the sinfulness of a peculiar erotic perversion. The Jesuits brought home from Manila a tailed man whose moveable prolongation of the os coccygis measured from 7 to 10 inches: he had placed himself between two women, enjoying one naturally while the other used his tail as a penis succedaneus. The verdict was incomplete sodomy and simple fornication. For the islands north of Japan, the “Sodomitical Sea,” and the “nayle of tynne” thrust through the prepuce to prevent sodomy, see Lib. ii. chap. 4 of Master Thomas Caudish’s Circumnavigation, and vol. vi. of Pinkerton’s Geography translated by Walckenaer.

Passing over to America we find that the Sotadic Zone contains the whole hemisphere from Behring’s Straits to Magellan’s. This prevalence of “mollities” astonishes the anthropologist, who is apt to consider pederasty the growth of luxury and the especial product of great and civilised cities, unnecessary and therefore unknown to simple savagery, where the births of both sexes are about equal and female infanticide is not practised. In many parts of the New World this perversion was accompanied by another depravity of taste—confirmed cannibalism.52 The forests and campos abounded in game from the deer to the pheasant-like penelope, and the seas and rivers produced an unfailing supply of excellent fish and shell-fish53; yet the Brazilian Tupis preferred the meat of man to every other food.

A glance at Mr. Bancroft54 proves the abnormal development of sodomy amongst the savages and barbarians of the New World. Even his half-frozen Hyperboreans “possess all the passions which are supposed to develop most freely under a milder temperature” (i. 58). “The voluptuousness and polygamy of the North American Indians, under a temperature of almost perpetual winter, is far greater than that of the most sensual tropical nations” (Martin’s Brit. Colonies iii. 524). I can quote only a few of the most remarkable instances. Of the Koniagas of Kadiak Island and the Thinkleets we read (i. 81-82), “The most repugnant of all their practices is that of male concubinage. A Kadiak mother will select her handsomest and most promising boy, and dress and rear him as a girl, teaching him only domestic duties, keeping him at women’s work, associating him with women and girls, in order to render his effeminacy complete. Arriving at the age of ten or fifteen years, he is married to some wealthy man who regards such a companion as a great acquisition. These male concubines are called Achnutschik or Schopans” (the authorities quoted being Holmberg, Langsdorff, Billing, Choris, Lisiansky and Marchand). The same is the case in Nutka Sound and the Aleutian Islands, where “male concubinage obtains throughout, but not to the same extent as amongst the Koniagas”. The objects of “unnatural” affection have their beards carefully plucked out as soon as the face-hair begins to grow, and their chins are tattooed like those of the women. In California the first missionaries found the same practice, the youths being called Joya (Bancroft, i. 415 and authorities Palon, Crespi, Boscana, Mofras, Torquemada, Duflot and Fages). The Comanches unite incest with sodomy (i. 515). “In New Mexico, according to Arlegui, Ribas, and other authors, male concubinage prevails to a great extent; these loathsome semblances of humanity, whom to call beastly were a slander upon beasts, dress themselves in the clothes and perform the functions of women, the use of weapons being denied them” (i. 585). Pederasty was systematically practised by the peoples of Cueba, Careta, and other parts of Central America. The Caciques and some of the headmen kept harems of youths who, as soon as destined for the unclean office, were dressed as women. They went by the name of Camayoas, and were hated and detested by the goodwives (i. 773-74). Of the Nahua nations Father Pierre de Gand (alias de Musa) writes, “Un certain nombre de prêtres n’avaient point de femmes, sed eorum loco pueros quibus abutebantur. Ce péché était si commun dans ce pays que, jeunes ou vieux, tous étaient infectés ; ils y étaient si adonnés que mêmes les enfants de six ans s’y livraient” (Ternaux-Campans, Voyages, Série i. Tom. x. p. 197). Among the Mayas of Yucatan Las Casas declares that the great prevalence of “unnatural” lust made parents anxious to see their progeny wedded as soon as possible (Kingsborough’s Mex. Ant. viii. 135). In Vera Paz a god, called by some Chin and by others Cavial and Maran, taught it by committing the act with another god. Some fathers gave their sons a boy to use as a woman, and if any other approached this pathic he was treated as an adulterer. In Yucatan images were found by Bernal Diaz proving the sodomitical propensities of the people (Bancroft v. 198). De Pauw (Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains, London, 1771) has much to say about the subject in Mexico generally: in the northern provinces men married youths who, dressed like women, were forbidden to carry arms. According to Gomara there were at Tamalpais houses of male prostitution; and from Diaz and others we gather that the pecado nefando was the rule. Both in Mexico and in Peru it might have caused, if it did not justify, the cruelties of the Conquistadores. Pederasty was also general throughout Nicaragua, and the early explorers found it amongst the indigenes of Panama.

We have authentic details concerning Le Vice in Peru and its adjacent lands, beginning with Cieza de Leon, who must be read in the original or in the translated extracts of Purchas (vol. v. 942, etc.), not in the cruelly castrated form preferred by the Council of the Hakluyt Society. Speaking of the New Granada Indians he tells us that “at Old Port (Porto Viejo) and Puna, the Deuill so farre prevayled in their beastly Deuotions that there were Boyes consecrated to serue in the Temple; and at the times of their Sacrifices and Solemne Feasts, the Lords and principall men abused them to that detestable filthinesse;” i.e. performed their peculiar worship. Generally in the hill-countries the Devil, under the show of holiness, had introduced the practice; for every temple or chief house of adoration kept one or two men or more which were attired like women, even from the time of their childhood, and spake like them, imitating them in everything; with these, under pretext of holiness and religion, their principal men on principal days had commerce. Speaking of the arrival of the Giants55 at Point Santa Elena, Cieza says (chap. lii.) they were detested by the natives, because in using their women they killed them, and their men also in another way. All the natives declare that God brought upon them a punishment proportioned to the enormity of their offence. When they were engaged together in their accursed intercourse, a fearful and terrible fire came down from Heaven with a great noise, out of the midst of which there issued a shining Angel with a glittering sword, wherewith at one blow they were all killed and the fire consumed them.56 There remained a few bones and skulls which God allowed to hide unconsumed by the fire, as a memorial of this punishment. In the Hakluyt Society’s bowdlerisation we read of the Tumbez Islanders being “very vicious, many of them committing the abominable offence” (p. 24); also, “If by the advice of the Devil any Indian commit the abominable crime, it is thought little of and they call him a woman.” In chapters lii. and lviii. we find exceptions. The Indians of Huancabamba, “although so near the peoples of Puerto Viejo and Guayaquil, do not commit the abominable sin;” and the Serranos, or island mountaineers, as sorcerers and magicians inferior to the coast peoples, were not so much addicted to sodomy.

The Royal Commentaries of the Yncas show that the evil was of a comparatively modern growth. In the early period of Peruvian history the people considered the crime “unspeakable:” if a Cuzco Indian not of Yncarial blood, angrily addressed the term pederast to another, he was held infamous for many days. One of the generals having reported to the Ynca Ccapacc Yupanqui that there were some sodomites, not in all the valleys, but one here and one there, “nor was it a habit of all the inhabitants but only of certain persons who practised it privately,” the ruler ordered that the criminals should be publicly burnt alive and their houses, crops and trees destroyed: moreover, to show his abomination, he commanded that the whole village should so be treated if one man fell into this habit (Lib. iii. cap. 13). Elsewhere we learn, “There were sodomites in some provinces, though not openly nor universally, but some particular men and in secret. In some parts they had them in their temples, because the Devil persuaded them that the Gods took great delight in such people, and thus the Devil acted as a traitor to remove the veil of shame that the Gentiles felt for this crime and to accustom them to commit it in public and in common.”

During the times of the Conquistadores male concubinage had become the rule throughout Peru. At Cuzco, we are told by Nuno de Guzman in 1530, “The last which was taken, and which fought most couragiously, was a man in the habite of a woman, which confessed that from a childe he had gotten his liuing by that filthinesse, for which I caused him to be burned.” V. F. Lopez57 draws a frightful picture of pathologic love in Peru. Under the reigns which followed that of Inti-Kapak (Ccapacc) Amauri, the country was attacked by invaders of a giant race coming from the sea: they practised pederasty after a fashion so shameless that the conquered tribes were compelled to fly (p. 271). Under the pre-Yncarial Amauta, or priestly dynasty, Peru had lapsed into savagery and the kings of Cuzco preserved only the name. “Toutes ces hontes et toutes ces misères provenaient de deux vices infâmes, la bestialité et la sodomie. Les femmes surtout étaient offensées de voir la nature frustrée de tous ses droits. Elles pleuraient ensemble en leurs réunions sur le misérable état dans lequel elles étaient tombées, sur le mépris avec lequel elles étaient traitées. * * * * Le monde était renversé, les hommes s’aimaient et étaient jaloux les uns des autres. * * * Elles cherchaient, mais en vain, les moyens de remédier au mal ; elles employaient des herbes et des recettes diaboliques qui leur ramenaient bien quelques individus, mais ne pouvaient arrêter les progrès incessants du vice. Cet état de choses constitua un véritable moyen âge, qui dura jusqu’à l’établissement du gouvernement des Incas” (p. 277).

When Sinchi Roko (the xcvth of Montesinos and the xcist of Garcilazo) became Ynca, he found morals at the lowest ebb. “Ni la prudence de l’Inca, ni les lois sévères qu’il avait promulguées n’avaient pu extirper entièrement le péché contre nature. Il reprit avec une nouvelle violence, et les femmes en furent si jalouses qu’un grand nombre d’elles tuèrent leurs maris. Les devins et les sorciers passaient leurs journées à fabriquer, avec certaines herbes, des compositions magiques qui rendaient fous ceux qui en mangaient, et les femmes en faisaient prendre, soit dans les aliments, soit dans la chicha, à ceux dont elles étaient jalouses” (p. 291).

I have remarked that the Tupi races of the Brazil were infamous for cannibalism and sodomy; nor could the latter be only racial as proved by the fact that colonists of pure Lusitanian blood followed in the path of the savages. Sr. Antonio Augusto da Costa Aguiar58 is outspoken upon this point. “A crime which in England leads to the gallows, and which is the very measure of abject depravity, passes with impunity amongst us by the participating in it of almost all or of many (de quasi todos, ou de muitos). Ah! if the wrath of Heaven were to fall by way of punishing such crimes (delictos), more than one city of this Empire, more than a dozen, would pass into the category of the Sodoms and Gomorrahs” (p. 30). Till late years pederasty in the Brazil was looked upon as a peccadillo, the European immigrants following the practice of the wild men who were naked but not, as Columbus said, “clothed in innocence.” One of Her Majesty’s Consuls used to tell a tale of the hilarity provoked in a “fashionable” assembly by the open declaration of a young gentleman that his mulatto-“patient” had suddenly turned upon him, insisting upon becoming agent. Now, however, under the influences of improved education and respect for the public opinion of Europe, pathologic love amongst the Luso-Brazilians has been reduced to the normal limits.

  1. For “Sindi” Roebuck (Oriental Proverbs Part i. p. 99) has Kunbu (Kumboh), a Panjábi peasant, and others vary the saying ad libitum. See [The Goldsmith and the Cashmere Singing-Girl, The 586th night, note].
  2. See Sind Revisited i. 133-35.
  3. They must not be confounded with the grelots lascifs, the little bells of gold or silver set by the people of Pegu in the prepuce-skin, and described by Nicolo de Conti who however refused to undergo the operation.
  4. Relation des découvertes faites par Colomb etc. p. 137: Bologna 1875; also Vespucci’s letter in Ramusio (i. 131) and Paro’s Recherches philosophiques sur les Américains.
  5. See Mantegazza loc. cit. who borrows from the Thèse de Paris of Dr. Abel Hureau de Villeneuve, “Frictiones per coitum productæ magnum mucosæ membranæ vaginalis turgorem, ac simul hujus cuniculi coarctationem tam maritis salacibus quæritatam afferunt.”
  6. Fascinus is the Priapus-god to whom the Vestal Virgins of Rome, professed tribades, sacrificed; also the neck-charm in phallus-shape. Fascinum is the male member.
  7. Captain Grose (Lexicon Balatronicum) explains merkin as “counterfeit hair for women’s privy parts. See Bailey’s Dict.” The Bailey of 1764, an “improved edition,” does not contain the word which is now generally applied to a cunnus succedaneus.
  8. I have noticed this phenomenal cannibalism in my notes to Mr. Albert Tootle’s excellent translation of “The Captivity of Hans Stade of Hesse:” London, Hakluyt Society, mdccclxxiv.
  9. The Ostreiras or shell mounds of the Brazil, sometimes 200 feet high, are described by me in Anthropologia No. i. Oct. 1873.
  10. The Native Races of the Pacific States of South America, by Herbert Howe Bancroft, London, Longmans, 1875.
  11. All Peruvian histories mention these giants, who were probably the large-limbed Caribs (Caraíbes) of the Brazil: they are noticed [hereafter].
  12. This sounds much like a pious fraud of the missionaries, a Europeo-American version of the Sodom legend.
  13. Les Races Aryennes du Pérou, Paris, Franck, 1871.
  14. O Brazil e os Brazileiros, Santos, 1862.

Retour à l’article principal Pederasty (Richard F. Burton)
Pederasty (1 — The Sotadic Zone. The ancient Greeks)
Pederasty (2 — Rome)
Pederasty (3 — Al-Islam)
Pederasty (4 — Asia. America)
Pederasty (5 — Modern Europe)

Voir aussi


  • A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights’ entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the Nights. Vol. X / by Richard F. Burton. – The Burton Club, 1886 (printed in the U.S.A.).

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