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Victor Samsonov
Victor Samsonov

Girdle _TOP_

Girdles are used to close a cassock in Christian denominations, including the Anglican Communion, Catholic Church, Methodist Church and Lutheran Church.[1] The girdle, in the 8th or 9th century, was said to resemble an ancient Levitical Jewish vestment, and in that era, was not visible. In 800 AD, the girdle began to be worn by Christian deacons in the Eastern Church.[2]


The girdle, for men, symbolizes preparation and readiness to serve, and for women, represents chastity and protection;[3] it was also worn by laypersons in the Middle Ages, as attested in literature. For example, the hagiographical account of Saint George and the Dragon mentions the evildoer being tamed with the sign of the cross and a girdle handed to Saint George by a virgin.[4]

The men among the Greeks and Romans wore the girdle upon the loins, and it served them to confine the tunic, and hold the purse, instead of pockets, which were unknown; girls and women wore it under the bosom. The Strophium, Taenia, or Mitra occurs in many figures. In the small bronze Pallas of the Villa Albani, and in figures on the Hamilton Vases, are three cordons with a knot, detached from two ends of the girdle, which is fixed under the bosom. This girdle forms under the breast a knot of ribbon, sometimes in the form of a rose, as occur on the two handsomest daughters of Niobe. Upon the youngest the ends of the girdle pass over the shoulders, and upon the back, as they do upon four Caryatides found at Monte Portio. This part of the dress the ancients called, at least in the time of Isidore, Succinctorium or Bracile. The girdle was omitted by both sexes in mourning. Often when the tunic was very long, and would otherwise be entangled by the feet, it was drawn over the girdle in such a way as to conceal the latter entirely underneath its folds. It is not uncommon to see two girdles of different widths worn together, one very high up, the other very low down, so as to form between the two in the tunic, a puckered interval; but this fashion was mostly applied to short tunics. The tunic of the Greek males was almost always confined by a girdle.

Girdles of iron, to prevent obesity, were worn by some of the Britons. From the Druidical eras the cure of diseases, especially those of difficult parturition, were ascribed to wearing certain girdles. Among the Anglo-Saxons, it was used by both sexes; by the men to confine their tunic, and support the sword. We find it richly embroidered, and of white leather. The leather strap was chiefly worn by monks.[5]

Saint Paul, in Ephesians 6:14 also references the term, stating "Stand therefore, first fastening round you the girdle of truth and putting on the breastplate of uprightness", further buttressing the concept of the girdle as a symbol of readiness.[8] Many Christian clergy, such as Anglican priests and Methodist ministers, use the following prayer when wearing the girdle:

By the 8th century AD, the girdle became established as a liturgical vestment "in the strict sense of the word."[9] Although the general word "cincture" is sometimes used as a synonym for the girdle, liturgical manuals distinguish between the two, as the "girdle is a long cord or rope while the cincture is a wide sash. Generally an alb is closed with a girdle, an Anglican-style double-breasted cassock is closed with a cincture, and a Roman cassock is closed with either one."[1]

In the medieval and early modern period there are also accounts of girdles being used as a mnemonic. These would be tied or decorated with bead so that, like a rosary, each notch would remind the wearer of a particular psalm or book.[10]

A gartel is a belt worn by Jewish males, predominantly (but not exclusively) Hasidim, during prayer. "Gartel" is Yiddish for "belt" and is cognate with the English word "girdle". Gartels are generally very modest in appearance. Most are black, but some gartels are white. Hasidic custom requires that there be a physical divide between the heart and the genitalia during any mention of God's name. It is commonly explained that separating the upper and lower parts of the body manifests a control of the animal instincts of the person by the distinctly human intellect.

In the Vajrayana iconography of the Hevajra Tantra, the 'girdle' (Tib.: ske rags), one of the 'Five Bone Ornaments' (aṣṭhiamudrā) symbolizes Amoghasiddhi and the 'accomplishing pristine awareness' (Kṛty-anuṣṭhāna-jñāna), one of the 'Five Wisdoms' (pañca-jñāna).[11] The iconography of the girdle (or bone apron and belt [12]) in Vajrayana iconography developed from one of the items of vestment adorning the Mahasiddha of the charnel grounds.

Beer (1999: p. 318) describes the bone girdle as the 'netted bone apron and belt' as vesture of the Dakinis and Heruka of the Cham Dance and Gar Dance of Tibetan Buddhism sacred ritual dance performances:

In literature, girdles are often portrayed as magical, giving power and strength if worn by men, and protection if worn by women. Several scriptures in the Bible make use of the girdle as a symbol for readiness and preparation. Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess, wore a fertility girdle, which, when it was removed, rendered the universe barren. Hercules wrestled with the Amazon queen for her girdle in his Greek myth. Aphrodite, or Venus in Roman mythology, also wore girdles associated with lechery in later poetry.[13]

For men a girdle was often used to hold weapons. It also gave them freedom to move in a fight, unlike other types of clothing. Both of these are thought to carry the connection of power to the man's girdle in literature. For example, Odysseus wears a girdle which allows him to swim for three days straight, and a girdle worn by Thor doubles his strength.[13]

Later, for women, the girdle became a sign of virginity, and was often considered to have magical properties. Monsters and all types of evil are recorded as being subdued by girdles in literature, a famous one being the dragon slain by Saint George. Marriage ceremonies continued this tradition of girdles symbolizing virginity by having the husband take the wife's girdle, and prostitutes were forbidden to wear them by law in historic France. Often in literature, women are portrayed as safe from sexual or other attack when wearing a girdle, but suddenly vulnerable if it is missing or stolen.[13]

The 20th century women's girdle attracts various references in literature, often in a disparaging way. For example, Marilyn French in her classic book, The Women's Room, is very critical not only of the girdle itself, but also of the virtual compulsion to wear one, a compulsion which existed until the late 1960s. In John Masters's Bhowani Junction, once the mixed-race Victoria Jones decides to opt for an Indian rather than British persona, she rejects her girdle as a "western garment".

In American football, a girdle is worn under the football player's pants to keep the hip, thigh, and tailbone pads in place, making the process of putting on the tight football pants easier. Older girdles resembled chaps, in that they covered only the front of the leg with pads, that snapped on. Modern girdles are essentially a tight pair of compression shorts with pockets for the pads. The girdle was also used in the Mesoamerican ballgame and is used in hockey (National Hockey League).

Beginning in prehistoric times, shells were used for adornment and seem to have been fertility symbols. Cowrie-shell girdles are often seen in Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom art around the hips of nude female figurines (see for example 08.200.18).Sithathoryunet's cowries are made of thin sheet gold. Seven are hollow and contain metal pellets that jingle; the eighth is cleverly constructed as a sliding clasp. The pellets would have made a soft sound when the wearer walked or, more likely, danced. The cowrie beads alternate with groups of small beads shaped like the seeds from an acacia tree; when strung together, they resemble the pods from these trees.

The images above show T1 weighted axial magnetic resonance images of the pelvic girdle and legs muscles of patients with LGMD2A, 2D and 2L. In all patients a selective pattern of muscle pathology can be seen, with advanced changes in the LGMD2A patient, well preserved calf muscles in the LGMD2D patients and well preserved gluteal muscles in the LGMD2L patient.

Patients with Emery Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) also form an important differential diagnosis to LGMD. The most prominent sign of EDMD is cardiac involvement and arrhythmias and patients commonly present with progressive joint contractures, typically in elbow flexion, and hip girdle related weakness in the first decade of life [100].

Pompe disease is another differential diagnosis that needs to be considered in patients with limb girdle weakness. Pompe disease is highly variable in presentation and may present at any age from childhood to adulthood. It is diagnosed by a deficiency or reduction of glucosidase enzyme activity [101].

Genetic investigation in patients with progressive limb girdle weakness is directed by history, examination, specific family history and the results of other investigations such as electrophysiology, muscle imaging and muscle biopsy analysis.

The shoulder girdle is the bony structure that surrounds the shoulder area, and the pelvic girdle is the bony structure surrounding the hips. Collectively, these are called the limb girdles, and it is the observed weakness and atrophy (wasting) of the muscles connected to the limb girdles that has given this group of disorders its name.

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) is a heterogeneous group of muscular dystrophies characterized by proximal weakness affecting the pelvic and shoulder girdles. Cardiac and respiratory impairment may be observed in certain forms of LGMD.

LGMD ranges from severe forms with onset in the first decade and rapid progression (resembling Duchenne muscular dystrophy) to milder forms with late onset and slower progression (similar to Becker muscular dystrophy). LGMD is characterized by weakness and wasting predominantly of the limb musculature (proximal greater than distal). The initial presentations are usually weakness of the hip and proximal leg muscles. Affected individuals usually have normal early motor and intellectual milestones and show a positive Gowers' sign. Cardiac involvement in the form of dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and dysrhythmias are present in LGMD 2C-F, 2I, 2W, 2X, 1B, and 1E. At some stage, when upper arm muscles are involved, all subtypes may also have respiratory muscle weakness with nocturnal hypoventilation, in particular type 2I where it is noted from an earlier stage. Additional clinical features include a waddling gait, muscle pain during exercise, hypertrophy of the deltoids and quadriceps, and muscle wasting, affecting either the pelvis and/or shoulder girdle. The facial muscles are usually spared or involved only minimally. 041b061a72


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