avium concentus in agris (leopold_paula_b) wrote in unusual_words,
avium concentus in agris
leopold_paula_b
unusual_words

hehiri-bikuni : fart-cut-nuns

In India, barefoot boys hold up parasols/umbrellas to keep the rain and sun off the women;
In Japan, the women hold up parasols/umbrellas for each other.

[...] Frois is not talking about women in general, but the women in Japan who have a similar social position to those served by others in India or in Europe (though not yet for umbrellas). Japanese ladies could do things for themselves. While some nobility did have help in Japan for almost every aspect of their lives, including "fart-cut-nuns" (hehiri-bikuni) who took the blame for their social indiscretions - i.e., the responsibility for their literal and figurative farts! (maybe I am fooled by fanciful literature on this, but it is too good not to mention!) - even such pampered courtesans = women living in court would usually fan themselves, something not true in much of the world. In Japan, only the Emperor's dog had someone to fan his flies away and put bits of ice in his mouth, according to A Diplomatist's Wife in Japan, Mrs. Frazer, who sighed "I wish some kind fairy would fan me all day and put bits of ice into my mouth!"

(Topsy-Turvy 1585. The famous tract by Luis Frois S.J., listing the 611 ways Europeans* & Japanese are contrary, translated and essayed by Robin D. Gill.) I really recommend this book. It's hilarious.
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*The example above is the only one that compares Japan to India instead of Europe.
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