Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weird Vocabulary: Anasyrma

What the heck is going on in this picture? Read below to find out everything you've ever wanted to know about the phenomenon known as Anasyrma!


According to a Wikipedia article, "Anasyrma is effectively “the exposing of the genitals.” This is a form of exhibitionism found in religion or artwork, rather than a display for arousal, and it always refers to the act of a woman exposing herself. The act of lifting up one’s skirt to display the genitals can be an apotropaic device."

Back during Vampire Week on the blog, we talked about how 'Apotropaic' is a word generally used to mean something that wards off demons and other evil spirits, but is often used to describe the various methods of stopping a vampire. Technically, it is defined as "preventing or intended to prevent evil," and comes from the Greek word apotropaios, meaning turning away from evil. 

I haven't really found out a whole lot of information about WHY or HOW showing one's genitals can scare away evil, but the Wiki article cited above does mention the idea that women are the ones who GIVE life, and thus, are the ones that can TAKE life, and the genital area symbolizes that giving of life. Examples exist in many cultures of women warding off evil, natural disasters, and other unpleasantness by simply lifting their skirts. Whatever the reason behind this behavior, this image is a plate from Jean de La Fontaine's Nouveaux Contes (1674), and depicts a demon repulsed by the sight of a woman lifting her skirt.

So...the next time you're faced with a potentially malevolent entity or demonic haunting, you've got another option for combating the evil!

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