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josie's avatar

Is it modesty, or something else, that depictions of Jesus on the cross show him covered with a loin cloth?

Asked by josie (27502points) January 29th, 2014

The Romans crucified people naked. I can sort of understand why Medieval and Renaissance artists, being intimidated by the Church, might have covered him up in their renderings. But the loin cloth tradition persists even into modernity.
Why is that?

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25 Answers

DWW25921's avatar

I guess it went from “seemed like a good idea at the time” to tradition.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Probably for the same reason why Jesus is most often depicted as a blue eyed northern European looking man.

josie's avatar

So is that reason modesty, or something else? Assuming it is not modesty in your example, what is the something else?

Smitha's avatar

In pictures Jesus was shown with a thin band of cloth extending round the waist and under the crotch.The loincloth was an invention of artists in the early Middle Ages. They were added to images by the artists for the sensibilities of the people. After Jesus was shown in painting wearing loin clothes, the artists would have thought of continuing the loin clothe tradition in crusification to show respect to Jesus and also not to embarrass people who considered exposure of private anatomy in paintings to be indecent.

talljasperman's avatar

~A carpenters son would be too well endowed for people to see beyond. Also it’s like Michelangelo David… some people are prudent others are prudes.

Seek's avatar

Jesus can’t be shown as a human man with a penis. Be serious.

1TubeGuru's avatar

Probably because no one wants to see Jesus with his junk hanging out.

filmfann's avatar

Good taste.

XOIIO's avatar

Most other fiction characters are shown without their penises hanging out. I think batman and spiderman movies would be pretty awkward that way.

Actually, pretty much any movie would be.

Seek's avatar

<—would watch naked Batman, if it were the right actor.

Oooh, can we do naked Lord of the Rings? I could handle some nude Aragorn.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@josie “So is that reason modesty, or something else? Assuming it is not modesty in your example, what is the something else?”

In a nutshell – the artistic tastes of the culture producing the art.

XOIIO's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr LOL

how about naked star trek with a current shatner?

Seek's avatar

What the hell?

I doubt it would cause my brain any lasting damage.

dxs's avatar

Maybe people are in awe of Jesus’s seamless underwear.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Simply stated, there are grave epistemological difficulties involved in fashioning a rendering of a divine penis. There would probably be severe and very unpleasant consequences for any artist foolish enough to cross (no pun intended) that line.

glacial's avatar

Actually, Christ has often been portrayed as naked, whether as an infant or an adult. There is, unsurprisingly, an entire book discussing what his nakedness in art might mean.

ragingloli's avatar

Is it not obvious?
Jesus was fathered by magic, not male DNA, so the only DNA he has is half of that of his mother.
He is basically an haploid clone of his mother, and as such he lacks the genes to grow male sexual organs. Being haploid also means that he was unable to live on his own, so he was kept alive by magic, and he probably looked like a girl, too.

ucme's avatar

His penis was in the form of a patronising angel perched atop two fluffy pink clouds.
Instead of urine & sperm, scriptures & prayer flowed out from it’s head in an irritating squeaky voice, with an Irish accent of all things.
The loincloth was placed over this hideous vista to shield the Roman soldiers present from it’s intoxicating glare.

Mimishu1995's avatar

My speculation: Apart from modesty, the cloth makes Jesus more a god than a human being. Covering his loin with the cloth makes what behind the cloth seems mysterious, therefore more holy. And you know, all gods are holy and mysterious.
Moreover, that also benefit Christians, preventing them from getting too distracted :)

elbanditoroso's avatar

I thought it was more to obscure the fact that he was circumcised.

filmfann's avatar

Wow. I mention Good Taste, and look what this devolves into.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@filmfann – i hope you aren’t referring to me with that comment.

I think it’s quite possible that (because circumcision has specific religious connotation) christianity/catholocism wanted to distance themselves from Jewish practice by covering up evidence of a circumcised jew.

KNOWITALL's avatar

The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all recount the legend of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden found in the Hebrew Bible, who are not aware that they are naked until they eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

After this, they feel ashamed and try to cover themselves with fig leaves.[1][2] Each of these religions have their own unique understanding of what is meant to be taught with the recounting of the story of Adam and Eve and the use of nudity in the Hebrew Bible.

In Christianity, nudity is associated with original sin, an integral aspect to their doctrine of redemption and salvation. In Islam, it is to show that women and men should be covered in clothing, for nudity has the stigma of shame attached to it.

[3] In Judaism, nudity in and of itself is not sinful, being that it is a natural part of God’s divine creation. And, many of the references to nudity or “nakedness” in the Hebrew Bible is understood as a polite euphemism for intimate behavior.

[4] For example, in the legend of Noah we experience the hesitancy of two of Noah’s sons when they have to cover their father’s nakedness, averting their eyes, after Noah’s youngest son “saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside” what he had done to his father.[5][6]

Dutchess_III's avatar

For the same reason that if Jesus were a female her breasts would be covered as well. The human body is EVIL!!!

rojo's avatar

Yah, you would think that a carpenters son would be crucified in carpenters overalls.

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