01 Jul2008

dw5

If you want to elicit shrieks of shock and mild public teenage humiliation, take your 12 turning 13 year old to a museum with lots of ancient statues (and where better than The National Archeaological Museum in Athens, a storehouse of fabulous antiquities and sculpture) and tell her to take a good look at the anatomical parts for future reference. Better in marble than in the flesh. The Kid gave me the beady eyes but let’s face it, they may be ancient, beautiful and surrounded by millenia of history, but they ARE buck naked, if you know what I mean. And worse, have you ever noticed that a very large percentage of these ancient statues appear to have been ruthlessly “de-wankered?” And yes, I know what a wanker is, and what he wanks, but in Marketman-speak, a wanker is also a reference to the wankee, so allow me the inaccurate use of the word for the purposes of this post…

dw1

Everywhere we went in Greece, the eunuched statues were quite obvious. It made me wonder if some scorned Athenean woman went on a rampage a couple of hundred or thousand years ago, and stormed all the major historical landmarks with a bolo to chop them all off a la Lorena Bobbit. I mean, I know they are sensitive parts, but isn’t it odd that many of the statues still have their noses, ears, toes and other extremities yet lost their thingees? And while on the subject, do you think sculptors wait until the end of the process to chisel the wanker or do they more or less do it earlier in the process? Imagine if they screw up after finishing the rest of the piece? And what of the hacked off pieces, does someone have a bizarre collection of appendages under glass. Can we pay some reasonable entrance fee to see them in a well-lit display? :)

dw4

I am by no means a history buff, nor an art historian (though I did take a few classes mainly on paintings), so I may be missing the obvious like at some point the anatomically correct statues offended the powers that be and were thus “adjusted” so as not to ruffle any sensibilities… At any rate, the other observation was the gender issue… there seemed to be a lot more male statues than female ones and in some cases the women were a tad more modest in stance than the guys… But the best lesson learned? If you want yourself immortalized for thousands of years in your birthday suit, spring for the more costly bronze cast rather than carrara marble. It seems your body parts are more likely to survive the vagaries of time if you are done in bronze. Just take a look at this fabulous statue of Zeus or Poseidon (no one is certain) poised to unleash either his lightning bolt or trident at someone getting too close for his comfort.

dw3

Bronze may be stronger, but not indestructible, see this statue from the collection at Delphi whose arms must have had a weak points in the armpits. And finally, the small bronze statue below seems to have survived, unscathed and fully intact. Statues of female subjects were less common, and their private parts were more modestly presented. The final photo below being one example, Aphrodite? and a satyr maybe? But let’s move away from wankers and on to Greek toes. I didn’t realize it during the trip, but it seems many (not all) greek statues have longer second toes. Yes, there was a reason for the not so ridiculous poll on whether you have a longer second toe… :)

dw6

Approximately 15-35% of the world’s population (depending on what source you believe) have what is known as Morton’s or Greek toe, where the second toe is longer than the big toe. And when I did some internet research last night, I spent a good hour reading dozens of sites and posts ranging from the utterly hilarious to the amazingly scientific and historical with respect to this condition… Suffice it to say in summary form that many Greek statues sport longer second toes, particularly those depicting gods, and the Romans copied Greek statues so they too exhibit second longer toes and so did some Egyptian sculptors, even though the majority of men in Egypt and Italy probably do not have longer second toes. Some say it is anthropologically linked and would make me swing from vines easier than those with non-greek toes, others say it is godly (I like that one), many Greeks do appear to have longer second toes (though its up for debate if a majority of Greeks possess this trait) and many other sites suggest asians too have longer second toes. At any rate, if you are interested, google “Greek toes” or “Morton’s toes” for more information. And so far, the MM poll results seem to suggest a high percentage of greek toes among the godly marketmanila readers…heeheehee.

dw2

Maybe this explains the popularity of open sandals in Greek society, so the abused second toe can walk freely. Now I want to invent leather shoes and sneakers specifically designed for those with Greek toes… can you imagine what a marketing dream that might be? I could start with a tag line like “has your second toe always been scrunched up in your shoes?”… or does your second toe have knuckles? I come from a family with notoriously long second toes. As kids, we were as agile picking things up off the floor with our toes as with our hands… So it amazes me that it has taken over 40 years to figure out what this means. It means I am putting excessive pressure on my second toe and the weight of my body has shifted from the natural “ball” of each foot. It also explains the huge corn that develops on a particular part of my foot… and on and on. And I do not claim this as original information, these are sewn together bits and pieces from several sources on the web after googling this topic. Ah, enough on wankers and toes, time to get back to food!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. quiapo says:

    The hardest thing for some of us to answer in your poll may be how much we fit into the category “Asian”. Perhaps some of us may have European feet, chinese eyes, European build and who knows what other anatomic proportions.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 11:58 am

     
  2. toping says:

    Waaah! I never noticed that my second toe is in fact longer than my big toe until you brought up the subject! Just like you, MM, I have no trouble picking things up with my foot; I can even pinch someone with my big and second toes! And all this time I thought it was because, as my mother often says, pinaglihi ako sa alimango, hehe…

    Jul 1, 2008 | 12:52 pm

     
  3. risa says:

    I have seen three different people with the fourth toe longer than the middle toe.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 1:19 pm

     
  4. Mila says:

    There was an amusing post on Manolo, the shoe blogger, about Greek toes (http://shoeblogs.com/2008/06/24/the-greek-foot/), never thought about the aesthetics or the issue of longer toes before.
    As to castrated statues, wasn’t there a time when they just added fig leaves to the sensitive parts? Maybe to keep it warm heehee.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 3:01 pm

     
  5. fried-neurons says:

    It’s a good thing that the Greeks don’t have the same puritanical streak that so many Americans have – doing ridiculous things such as covering up the private parts of nude statues and such.

    BTW, a true eunuch doesn’t have the “walnuts”, either. :)

    Jul 1, 2008 | 3:14 pm

     
  6. Marketman says:

    fried neurons, you are right, of course, heehee. Mila, how did they string up the fig leaves with a thong? hahaha. risa, hello?!, now that was one variation I have not noticed before… but I have seen someone with 6 fingers on one hand…

    Jul 1, 2008 | 3:21 pm

     
  7. The Artist Chef says:

    Hi market man!

    Did u also go to Santorini?
    Btw when is your TV appearance again?

    Jul 1, 2008 | 4:28 pm

     
  8. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    hahahahahaha….Thanks for this piece MM. Murphy’s law was the order of the day for me, and this write-up turned things around.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 5:35 pm

     
  9. Denise says:

    Hey I have a longer second toe too…me and most of my cousins from my mother’s side…and it is good for picking up things or pinch fighting :D

    If I remember correctly, most Greek & Roman statues were “de-wankered” by some pope back in the day

    Jul 1, 2008 | 5:50 pm

     
  10. Avic says:

    This is very interesting, MM. I did notice that some people have longer second toes but I always thought of it as one of the nornal/usual stuff – because I’m one of them! Hahaha!

    Jul 1, 2008 | 5:59 pm

     
  11. Lex says:

    It is interesting that you noted the predominance of the male figure in Greek Art. It has been noted that for Greeks, the male body is the epitome of perfection. For centuries it has always been glorified in their sculpture. If you notice in the pictures you posted, the more ancient the piece of sculpture, the less lifelike they are. Though anatomically complete, the statues begun as stiff and wooden. As they developed through the centuries, so did their mastery of their craft. They improved their mastery of anatomy and introduced movement, thus your statue of a man seeming to throw the javelin. Further on they showed tactile qualities in the bodies therefore making you feel the softness of the flesh in your other photos.

    Being European, the Greeks were also less embarrassed depicting the private parts/apendages. Remember, it was the
    Greeks who invented the Olympic games with all the athletes competing in nothing but their birthday suits. Women were not allowed to view or participate.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 6:16 pm

     
  12. Apicio says:

    Well as Winkelmann said of the wankers, “even the private parts have their appropriate beauty.” Of the imparity of gender representations, that’s what you get when you cloister your women and allow your boys to sport about in gymnasia (gymne = nude) just slicked in oil and covered only with powder sand.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 7:02 pm

     
  13. misao says:

    i have a longer 2nd toe as well… it gets squished whenever i wear square toedc losed shoes. haha…

    as for the why there are lot of men sculpture than women, i think it’s also due to their ancient view on women. women in ancient greece were second class citizen. most men have both wives and male partners. the wives are just for bearing kids.

    Jul 1, 2008 | 8:24 pm

     
  14. kate says:

    my second toe is also the longest in the bunch :) goes very well with my bunion too :( my mom calls it kite foot.

    btw, eunuchs still have their wankers but sans the walnuts (from fried neurons) i know because my cat is one :) teeheehee!

    Jul 1, 2008 | 9:07 pm

     
  15. Gini says:

    Hi MM. Been a long-time fan here. You are in my “Fave-five” :). Anyway, I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles and the comments but I have never been so prompted except for now to write… Re: but I have seen someone with 6 fingers on one hand…
    My aunt was born “dose-dose” (12/12 in tagalog)because she had 6 digits on each hand and foot. Unfortunate or fortunate is truly relative. Unfortunate because she had to have painful bone surgery on both hands and feet when she was older so that she won’t be teased and she would be able to buy shoes to fit. Fortunate because her extra appendages, called “riting” or “kutil”, were supposed to be her “suwerte”. This is a kind of genetic mutation that is supposedly an inherited trait- polydactyly when there are extra appendages and syndactyly when the digits are webbed. She had 4 kids (my first cousins, 3 of them had extra appendages in varied ways- e.g. dose/dose, or ten fingers, 12 toes but they had one daughter with normal-digit extremities who they called their “abno” :)
    From what I heard, this genetic mutation has now carried on to their third generation, my unseen nephews and nieces. And nobody can pinpoint exactly where in the generation line the mutation came from because out of 9 kids, only my aunt had this congenital deformity.
    Thank you for taking us through your travels. I love being a virtual tourist through your posts.

    Jul 2, 2008 | 10:00 am

     
  16. Abby says:

    I want to answer your poll about the toes but I cannot answer 2 options. The big toe and the second one on my right foot have the same length but on my left foot the 2nd toe is longer. How’s that for weird?

    Jul 3, 2008 | 8:14 am

     
  17. the husband says:

    I read somewhere that people who have larger second toes are descendants of the elites (gods), whereas those with “normal” toes are descendants of the slaves. Funny thing is, the wife has the “elite” toes and I have the “normal” toes, so that makes me the slave. :)
    On the wankered statues, they say a “holy man” went on a “spiritual” rampage and chop off all the appendages.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 8:16 am

     
  18. corrine says:

    MM, I share your experience when I brought my son though 18 years old to the MET in NY. There was a special exhibition of Gustav Courbet’s works. He had this painting…like a camera that zoomed on the female’s genitalia…really up close and personal. Am not sure if I was the one who blushed or him.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 9:19 am

     
  19. drunkenlily says:

    Survey option: I cannot see my toes…
    hahahaha…nice one MM!

    Jul 3, 2008 | 10:20 am

     
  20. alicia says:

    What a treat it must be to go to a museum with you, your wit would keep anyone entertained and engrossed!

    Jul 3, 2008 | 5:58 pm

     
  21. Apicio says:

    I suspect that the later Greek sculptors got the hang of it for the most part through intimate knowledge of their subject, see specially the second picture.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 8:53 pm

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Apicio, HAHAHA! :) alicia, I can only last 75-90 minutes in any museum at any one time. Then I have to take a break and eat or nosh. I do like museums, but only in small doses!

    Jul 3, 2008 | 9:32 pm

     
 

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