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Impearls: Jerangdu theories of male potency

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Earthdate 2005-11-05

Jerangdu theories of male potency

Glenn Reynolds the Instapundit transmits a “Message to Derbyshire,” pointing to this little piece:

JERANGDU [John Derbyshire]
A reader:  “Mr. Derbyshire — One group where spouses do not share a marital bed is New Guinea's Sambia.  Male potency is seen as a strange power called Jerangdu.  It is kind of like the Maori's manu in that it can be transferred around.  If you run out of it you die.  Anyway, jerangdu is found in the semen.  Women are always trying to steal the man's potency so the man must be cautious.  Men sleep in the men's hut and visit the wife sparingly, less they age too quickly.  It gets weirder from there…”

[Derb] Thank you, Sir.  Er, excuse me, guys, but don't we all sort of… believe this?

Instapundit's message shot right back at 'em?  “No, we don't all believe this.”

Amusing as this is, one needn't go nearly as far away as New Guinea to find examples of that kind of ‘jerangdu’-istic thinking: indeed, peoples right here in northern California (Impearls' own home turf) subscribed to notions not dissimilar to those laid out above, which we'll report on separately (see, for instance, here, here, and here); meanwhile, as yet another stupendous example, Greco-Roman civilization was rife with the idea — yes, our classical heritage was just as into this kind of mumbo-jumbo sociosexual theorizing as any New Guinean Sambia.

Impearls' readers will recall last year's feature on “Sex in Antiquity.”  It's worth noting that there's much more to this perplexing subject than that earlier piece could get into, so to inquire into yet another intriguing aspect of Sex in Antiquity, please scroll down, or just follow this link to teleport there.


UPDATE:  2009-09-06 18:00 UT:  Added links pointing to examples in A. L. Kroeber's The Civilization of California's Far Northwest here in Impearls.


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