Leather Strap-On Dildo
Lady Teleri the Well-Prepared
Persona Pentathlon, KASF 2010
● Dildos were well-known from ancient times
● Burchard of Worms gives penance for using one tied on with fasteners (1012) ● Pentitential of Bede (Anglo-Saxon, eighth century, probably not by Bede) gives penance for nuns using one
● Probably the 'wrong' answer to one of the mini-riddles in Exeter Book Riddle 12 ● 'Right' answer to the mini-riddle and answer to Riddle 12 overall ("ox"), together with common sense, suggest leather as construction material
● Hardened cuir bouilli leather a possibility; stuffed is another ● Fashioned dildo from leather using turnshoe construction techniques, stuffed with polyester batting
● Attached to leather base with slits for fasteners, so that they can be removed. This way, girdles or garters can be used instead of bands needing to be purpose-made. ● Fasteners might be tablet woven bands although there are many options ● It stays on although I can't say how well it works
It's a strap-on leather dildo. It was used just how you'd expect. No, not this particular one. It's okay to touch it.
Eighth century Anglo-Saxon nuns doin' it
"If nuns with a nun, using an instrument, seven years [penance]." From the eight century Penitential of Bede (Murray 198). (The Penitential of Bede was likely not by Bede, but it was an Anglo-Saxon manuscript.)
Tenth century Welsh slave doin' it solo
Below are two translations of an Exeter Book riddle (c. 960 - 990) whose answer is "ox." (Williamson and Crossley-Holland count the book's riddles differently, hence the different numbers.) After the first two lines, the poem becomes a series of mini-riddles about things made out of oxhide. We see leather thongs, a leather cup or bottle, and an oxhide rug or mat. Then we get to a Welsh slave doing something quite obscure... Riddle 10 (Williamson)
Foot-furrowing, I walk and wound
Living I ravage the raw land;
Lifeless I bind lord and servant.
Sometimes out of my belly I bring
The rush of drink to the fierce-hearted
War-man. Sometimes the arch-wild,
Fierce-footed woman treads my back.
Sometimes the dark-haired, drunken
Lifts me up near the night fire
With hot hands-turns, teases,
Presses, thrusts, warm and wet,
Down dark ways. Say what I am
Who living plunder the down land
And after death serve man.
Riddle 12 (Crossley-Holland)
I travel by foot, trample the ground,
the green fields, for as long as I live
Lifeless, I fetter dark Welshmen
sometimes their betters too. At times
I give a warrior liquor from within me,
at times a stately bride steps on me;
sometimes a slave-girl, raven-haired,
brought far from Wales, cradles and presses
me - some stupid, sozzled maidservant fills
with water on dark nights, warms me
by the gleaming fire, on my breast
she places a wanton hand and writhes about,
then sweeps me against her dark declivity.
What am I called who, alive, lay waste
the land and, dead, serve humankind?
Rulon-Miller convincingly argues that the lines concerning the slave are actually a riddle within a riddle. The "innocent" answer is that she is constructing something, perhaps a bottle, using a cuir bouilli technique. That requires the leather to be wet, the stretched into place (often with some difficulty, hence her struggle with it) and then heated. The "obscene" answer suggests the use of a dildo made of oxhide (as it appears in a list of items that come from a dead ox). The two might be one and the same, with a leather bottle being used as a dildo. Early eleventh century German women doin' it in great and explicit detail Zacks provides a question that a priest might pose to a woman in confession (from Burchard of Worms, Penitential, Germany, 1012):
Have you done what certain women are accustomed to do, that is, to make some sort of
device or implement in the shape of the male member, of a size to match your desire,...
References: Crossley-Holland, Kevin. The 'Exeter Book ' Riddles. Penguin Books, 2001.
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