Thigh Shower!

Young Spartans Exercising by Edgar Degas
Young Spartans Exercising by Edgar Degas

“Thigh shower” (phianomerides) was an insult.  Well, it was supposed to be an insult.  It was used in classical Greece to denote a woman of “loose morals.”  Showing more leg than the feet was considered scandalous.  The insult was often hurled at Spartan women, and this is where the insult fell flat.

The clothing worn by women and men alike was little more than a huge rectangle of cloth, like a blanket.  It was the use of draping, buttons, and pins which transformed the rectangle into a comfortable tunic or dress.  The two main groups of people who made up Greece were the Dorians and the Ionians.  The leading Doric city state was Sparta and the leading Ionian city state was Athens.  Doric women pinned their dresses differently from Ionian women.  Spartan women pinned their garments in a way to create the classic slit skirt.

Putting on a Doric Chiton
Putting on a Doric Chiton
The chiton after pinning, draping, & belting.
The chiton after pinning, draping, & belting.

The insult fell flat because Spartan women were a cut above other Greek women.  They were better educated, stronger, and had more control over their lives.  Spartan women owned one third of the land in Sparta.

Fantasy Miniature Fashion

So what does this have to do with miniature wargaming?  In the fantasy world of Two Hour Wargames, the island continent of Valkae is ruled by Amazons, Greek Amazons.  To make the stories generated by Rally Round the King, Red Sun Black Moon, and the Warrior Heroes series more accurate, I was researching Greek clothing so I could use the proper terms when describing it.  When I read about the “thigh showers” as an attempt to insult strong women, I began to wonder about fantasy art and sculptures.  I wondered if clothing chosen for a model determined strength or other characteristics.

3 full skirted women, L to R: Cleric, Druid, Wood Elf Queen
3 full skirted women, L to R: Cleric, Druid, Wood Elf Queen

Figures wearing dresses or full skirts fall into two categories, women that exude a quiet power such as clerics, druids, queens, etc., and average normal village women, waitresses, maids, cooks, and mothers.

When we look at warriors and fighters, we find figures that need mobility.  The dress is replaced with armor and pants.  And, the infamous chainmail bikini.  I don’t know who first began to depict bikini clad women in fantasy art.  Two of the earliest masters of the bikini clad heroine were Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby.

A paladin in full plate armor. Figure by Reaper.
A paladin in full plate armor. Figure by Reaper.
Dwarf fighter in armor.
Dwarf fighter in armor.
Adventurer in pants
Adventurer in pants
"Chicks in Chainmail" - the infamous chainmail bikini
“Chicks in Chainmail” – the infamous chainmail bikini
Stuffing a wild dwarf bikini
Stuffing a wild dwarf bikini

What started this look at fantasy clothing was my need to find the name of the short garment worn by Greek amazons.  Even when wearing armor, the basic garment they are depicted wearing is the “chitoniskos,” a chiton that ends above the knees.

Amazons wearing the chitoniskos
Amazons wearing the chitoniskos

So, who is our “thigh shower?”  In fantasy art, that role falls to those of seductive power, the sorceresses.  The sorceress is both seduced by power and seduces others with power.IMG_1026IMG_1027

A Reaper Bones plastic figure
A Reaper Bones plastic figure
Why show one thigh, when you can show two?
Why show one thigh, when you can show two?

IMG_1030And finally, we actually do come to the woman of loose morals:

Madame & strumpets - figures by Reaper
Madame & strumpets – figures by Reaper

No, no, Becky! This post is about showing thighs, not the devil’s dumplings!

One comment

  1. Interesting. I was recently reading some Red Sonja comics. Although drawn by a couple of different artists, she is most often shown wearing the classic chainmail bikini. Which, although I don’t mind the view, struck me as a bit silly and at least uncomfortable. One artist did show her dressed much like your ‘adventurer in pants’ figure, but only the one.

    Another thing that has always struck me as a bit odd is the high heels on female characters’ boots. Impractical, and possibly even risking serious ankle injury…but then I guess that’s why it’s fantasy.

    BTW, I’ve been a big fan of Frazetta’s art since I first encountered it on the cover of Conan paperbacks back in the 60’s. Lots of paper route money went there.

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