Anasyrma (plural: anasyrmata), also called anasyrmos, is the gesture of lifting up the skirt or kilt. It is used in connection with certain religious rituals, eroticism, and lewd jokes, see e.g. Baubo. The term is used in describing corresponding works of art. Anasyrma differs from flashing, a physically similar gesture as an act of exhibitionism, in that an exhibitionist has an implied purpose of his/her own sexual arousal, while anasyrma is only done for the effect on the onlookers.
Anasyrma may be a deliberately provocative self-exposing of one's naked genitals and/or buttocks. The famous example of the latter case is Aphrodite Kallipygos ("Aphrodite beautiful buttocks"). In many traditions this gesture also has an apotropaic character, as a mockery towards a supernatural enemy analogous to mooning.
Ritual jesting and obscenity were common in the cults of Demeter
, and figure in the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries
associated with these divinities. The mythographer Apollodorus says that Iambe's jesting was the reason for the practice of ritual jesting at the Thesmophoria
, a festival celebrated in honor of Demeter and Persephone, but in other versions of the myth of Demeter, the goddess is received by a woman named Baubo, who makes her laugh by exposing herself, in a ritual gesture called anasyrma ("lifting up [of skirts]"). A set of statuettes from Priene
, a Greek city on the east coast of Asia Minor, are usually identified as "Baubo" figurines, representing the female body as the face conflated with the lower part of the abdomen, much like the phalluses
decorated with eyes, mouth, and sometimes also legs that appear on vase paintings and also as statuettes.
- Wesleyan.edu - Homeric hymn to Demeter
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