Names for female genitalia in various cultures and languages.
By Fiora Gandolfi (www.fioragandolfi.it)
The representation of the female genitalia is common as a protective symbol in the pre-semite era. It was represented as water, as a serpent or as an almond. This part of the body, which is now exclusive territory of pornography, obscene and frightening, had magic powers.
In the ‘Song of Songs’, we read ‘my love, go into your garden in the perfumed lawn’.
Flowers, the rose and the bud in particular were for centuries explicit metaphors and they enriched poems of the ‘litterature courtoise’ like the ‘romance of the rose’ or in the ‘flowers’ of Dante Alighieri from which we get the term ‘to deflower’- lose one’s virginity.
There are many terms linked to fruits.
Fig, strawberry, prune, grape, or chestnut - as Aretino writes in the 1500’s ‘Ella ha nelle mani e nella castagna le perle, i rubini, i diamanti, gli smeraldi e la melodia del mondo.’
The garden of earthly delights encompasses also the oblong form of the Venetian ‘mandola’ (almond), or the olive in England, which precedes the name Cherry (as in ‘lose your cherry’). In Sweeden ‘fitta’ means ‘humid dewy lawn’. In Arabic countries they use ‘Tamar’ – date. In Turkey it is an apricot. In Romania it is a peach. In Slovenia, and in many other Slavic countries, a prune. From the fruit counter we go the Delicatessen with its fresh cheeses and comforting cakes like muffins. In Macedonia they say ‘Banitza’ or also ‘Dunda’. In the Ukraine ‘Verenik’, in Italy ‘Gnocca’. In the Persian culture it become ‘paneer’, a fatty, soft cheese tasty like mozzarella.
Very often the sexual terms that refer to the female sex also mean, as in the Albanian ‘grape’, pretty woman. In Italy they say figo (from fig) to mean marvellous, cool, fantastic.
In effect this part of the woman’s body is the woman herself and the ultimate proof of the importance given to this part of the female body we see in the word ‘mona’ (vagina) which has the same roots as the ‘mona’ in Mona Lisa – ‘My Lady’, Madonna (the Virgin Mary) which comes from the Latin ‘Mea Domina’ a term of reverence.