Naturists of Legend

Naturism is multicultural! 
Here are some pithy profiles of nude heroes and heroines 
from around the world and throughout history. 

When I first put this post together in 2014 on my nudescribe blog, my intent was to write brief texts about the four naturist legends below, that could fit on the backs of a series of bookmarks, with an original image on the front of each. I couldn’t convince my usual illustrator to take on the imagery, so the project was never realized. But I’m revisiting these profiles here because they are women and men, from different continents and time periods, who continue to inspire naturism.

Lady Godiva is perhaps the most familiar of these figures, and an inspiration for many. El Dorado, while only a background presence in my first novel Co-ed Naked Philosophy and in my on-line story The Nude Adventure of Doff de Chonez pa su Mecha, is a much more direct influence in my second novel, Aglow. Akka Mahadevi makes an inspirational appearance in my fellow site writer Robert Longpré’s novel A Small Company of Pilgrims / The Half-Naked Pilgrim. And Kirikou, well… if you haven’t seen the films by director Michel Ocelot and his team, you’re missing a very special treat! Read more below!

LADY GODIVA (11th-Century England)
Truth, or dare? The truth: Her husband, sure of a refusal, dared her to ride through town unattired. But it was the daring Lady Godiva herself who threw down her gauntlet, and everything else to be worn except her horse’s finery, to protest her Lord spouse’s excessive taxes on his subjects.
She was the sight to see as she cantered through Coventry, although we’re supposed to believe that none of the townsfolk, except one Peeping Tom, dared admire her alleged alabaster skin, long red tresses, shapely femininity in motion, or, most importantly, her courage. The dare: Her challenge has been met throughout history, and nude public protest of the Lady Godiva kind is one of the most common social nudist phenomena.

Lady Godiva by John Collier. Another excellent illustration with original poem here.

EL DORADO (16th-Century Colombia)
The Golden One, Chief of the Chibchas, was one of the first pioneers to combine two nudist favorites: skinnydipping and bodypainting. His attendants would blow gold dust over every inch of his resin-coated skin. After incantations and offerings to the lake, he’d dive from a raft in a ceremony of deep purification and glittering rebirth. The invading Spaniards heard about some handfuls of gold dust and quickly exaggerated the existence of an entire city of gold. There are also those who, upon hearing of naturists enjoying the elements, breathlessly assert a litany of imagined depravities. But in neither case is it about excesses of wealth or sex. It’s about humanity, spirituality, nature, and just plain fun.

Ritual of El Dorado, Narrando y Danzando por Colombia

AKKA MAHADEVI (12th-Century India)
Clothes get in the way…in so many ways. Akka Mahadevi wanted none of her garments to obstruct her worship of Lord Shiva. In her society and time period, nudity was acceptable among devout men only. But Akka, after fleeing a forced marriage, decided to abandon clothing altogether and wander southern India sharing her songs and verses, some of which are still conserved. She let her hair grow long enough to cover most of her body, for no purpose other than saving the men she dealt with from their own embarrassment at seeing her. This “naked saint” is regarded today as one of the first women philosophers and an original feminist whose unorthodox approaches illuminated the clothes-minded.

Akka Mahadevi, Hinduism Today

KIRIKOU (18th-Century Mali)
He spoke his first words from the womb. He could run with incredible speed as soon as he was born. With indefatigable daring and impeccable logic, naked Kirikou the man-child saved his village from drought, from wild animals, and from the cruel machinations of a sorceress. He even liberated the sorceress herself from the root of her own evil, and then, to marry her, he grew into a strapping youth in an instant. Yet one of his greatest trials was simply enduring the willful ignorance of his fully and partially clothed neighbors, who time and again refused to believe his insights. Were Kirikou’s extraordinary knowledge, bravery, and patience developed more thoroughly by his nudity? Living naturally can only help.

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