Earliest fragment from German vagina poem found in abbey library

Scholars from the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) have discovered a fragment from a German medieval poem about the adventures of a virgin and her anthropomorphised vagina that is almost 200 years older than any other known version of this eroto-satirical epic. Christine Glaßner discovered the fragment in the binding of a codex held in the library of Melk Abbey, an imposing baroque structure overlooking the Danube in Austria’s Wachau Valley. It was nestled between pages 204 and 205 of the codex. 

The strip is long and skinny, 22cm by 1.5cm (8.7″x .6″), with just a few letters from 60 verses of  the poem. It was reused for its parchment in the binding of a Latin text. She recognized it as something of particular interest and Nathanael Busch from the University of Siegen identified it as a fragment from Der Rosendorn (The Rose Thorn).

The so-called “Rosendorn” (The Rose Thorn) tells of a virgin woman disagreeing with her talking vulva about which of them is most appreciated by men. Until now, it had been assumed that such openness regarding sexuality in the German-speaking world did not appear until the end of the Middle Ages, for example in the urban culture of the 15th century. The find from Melk, on the other hand, was written around 1300 and thus revises the previous research. It seems that 200 years earlier than previously thought, erotic poetry was written, recited and perhaps even staged. Apparently, such poems were rarely written down and have even more rarely survived to the present day.

Previously known from two extant copies, in the Dresden Codex and the Karlsruhe Codex, dating to the 16th century, Der Rosendorn was written by an unknown German-language author. It tells the saucy tale of a virgin and her vulva arguing over which of them is most appealing to men. The virgin argues her beauty is the draw. Her vulva argues that beauty doesn’t matter because she’s the one who provides all the pleasure. They decide to break up and prove once and for all which one of them is right. The vulva splits off by ingesting a “manic root” (symbolizing penetrative masturbation) and goes on her way. The separation is a disaster. The vulva is uncaringly used by every man she encounters; the virgin offers herself to a mob of men who trample her in their rush. In the end, they decide to become one once more. The narrator, a man who spied upon them from the beginning, is the one who reattaches them and he does so in the most obvious way you can imagine: he, uh, fornicates the vulva back into the woman.

The motif of a sentient vulva taking corporeal form independent of the woman she was once part of is seen in French and German medieval literature, a satirical counterpoint to the courtly romances of the period. The rose in the title is a symbol of female sexuality, and the initial setting of the poem — a walled garden where a virgin extracts rosewater from a rose bush and bathes in it — mirrors that of the 13th century masterpiece of courtly love literature, Le Roman de la Rose.

In March of this year, the fragment was carefully removed from the codex binding and is now preserved on its own in the fragment collection of the Melk Abbey Library. It is being studied now as part of the “Manuscript Census” of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz at the Philipps University of Marburg.


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Comment by Jim
2019-07-30 14:54:20

What rhymes with “piss and moan”?

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-07-30 15:25:57

…cannot believe that wordpress wont accept my list:

:eek: is the ‘p’ word ruled out?!?

kar (Albanian), кур (Bulgarian, vulgar!), 25 different terms in Chinese that I wont have the time for, about 20 Kurdish ones (of which one is xirr), кур (Macedonian, vulgar!), kēr (Middle Persian, rendered in Western letters), (эр бэлгэ эрхтэн) (‘erhten’ apparently means limb in Mongolian), teors (*Old English!), kar (Romani), хер (Russian, vulgar of course), …

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-07-30 15:30:06

2nd try… :confused:

A ‘walled garden‘ for real! …Seems as if nowhere the original text is published, and everybody copies from everyone else.

At last I found an article, entitled ‘Zers and Fud als literarische Helden’, i.e. the male and female private parts (you know, don’t you?) as heros in literature.

The term ‘fud’ which is also used in the poem is an easy one, derived from (lat.) “fututio”, or c*pulation, hence, in Latin a ‘fututor’ is a c*pulator.

Once separated it from its former owner, I virtually have no idea what might have influenced the idea to refer to a medieval german p*nis as ‘Zers’ or ‘Czers’. Then, I looked up possible translations (some of them rather wild and distant, so the term might be an old one), and I could finally come up with this:

kar (Albanian), кур (Bulgarian, vulgar!), 25 different terms in Chinese that I wont have the time for, about 20 Kurdish ones (of which one is xirr), кур (Macedonian, vulgar!), kēr (Middle Persian, rendered in Western letters), (эр бэлгэ эрхтэн) (‘erhten’ apparently means limb in Mongolian), teors (*Old English!), kar (Romani), хер (Russian, vulgar of course), …

(*) From Proto-Germanic *tersaz. Cognate with Old High German zers, Middle Dutch teers. Descendants: Middle English: ters, tarse, tearse, terce, tars; English: tarse; Scots: tars, ters. I am not a native English speaker, but there is John Wilmot, A Satire on Charles II (1673): “For though in her he settles well his tarse, Yet his dull, graceless bollocks hang an arse.” – True Romance!

PS: Medieval drastic poetry was apparently used quite regularly during carnival (i.e. before carnival), on pilgrimage and –as ‘katholisch.de’ points out– “not by coincidence in a nunnery”. As far as the ‘Rosendorn’ poem is concerned, it may be worth noticing that the poet and not-so gentle man is putting the poor “fudlos” girl (i.e. with her fud gone) publicly (pun intended!) on the spot: “und ward ein fingerzaigen auf sie”.

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-07-30 15:34:44

Crazy – Indeed, my final penetr*tion test, using the p-word, did indeed not work!!! :lol:

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-07-30 17:41:39

There is even more… e.g. the term teors in Anglo-Saxon (from the rather middle Middle Ages):

“Wið hærþena sáre and teorses” -or- “Smyre ðone teors and ða hærþan, ðonne hafaþ hé mycelne lust” (obviously, they should all stay together) …The term sceáþ is pretty much exactly –OK almost exact– the term -for you know what (from the poem, i.e. to which the teors can make ‘fututio’ to) in modern German.

Contrastingly, that one is not at all entitled to use the p-word seems to be an entirely ‘modern’ phenomenon :p

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-07-31 03:58:16

OK, some of you may find those issues boring, but there is ‘special jargon’ used in falconry and hunting.

In German, e.g. a male bird of pray is usually referred to by hunters as ‘Terzel’ (with the surprising exception of the male sparrowhawk or ‘Sperber’, which is referred to by German hunters as ‘Sprinz’). The term ‘Terzel’ is related to terçuel (Middle French), allegedly from Late Latin tertiolus, “a diminutive of Latin tertius” (“third”) [which I personally would be rather unsure of — ‘Semantics unclear’, so it says.].

In Ancient Greek, however, there is τερέω (to bore through, pierce) and τέρετρον (borer, gimlet). ‘Gimlet’ in return, according to my dictionary, seems to be –at least when combined with gin, vodka and lime juice– ..a cocktail!..


Moreover, in case you think that sucks, look up ‘succhiare’ and ‘succhiellare’, which I -no worries- wont discuss here.

Comment by jim
2019-07-31 09:21:24

NOT toot your own horn.

Comment by Scott Glen Young
2019-07-31 13:13:26

“Rose Thorn” is an interesting juxtaposition to one of the epithets of the Virgin Mary as “A Rose without Thorns”.

Comment by Martin
2019-07-31 15:06:08

کیر (kir) is still a (vulgar) word for that part in Persian.

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-08-01 02:52:12

To complete the story, I had planned to come up with a few more terms for the female part(s).

However, there was no clear picture or any kind of pattern, apart from a few ‘standards’, several terms in Russian of different vulgarity, affectionate terms for cats (one of the Russian ones was ки́ска and referred to as ‘euphemistic’), then, a –for whatever reason– ‘vulgar character’ 屄 in Mandarin, کس‎ (kos), and in Ancient Greek κύσθος, which they ‘translated’ in the ‘Liddell, Scott, Jones‘ (LSJ) dictionary as ‘pudenda muliebria‘ and –equally obscure– also a ‘marine substance used in dyeing’ –Why, then the world’s mine oyster?

A friend of mine from Kenia told me that Japan had sent Mr. Yamamoto as their new ambassador, and about the great success as ‘yama’ would mean ‘huge’ and ‘moto’ would be an extremely vulgar expresion for ‘cunt’ in Swahili. However, he does not speak any and was born and raised in Europe. If not totally made up, therefore, maybe something similar to ‘poon’, ‘punani’ and ‘punaany’. Hard wood for poon, so to speak :eek:

Comment by Karen
2019-08-01 12:21:59

If I may offer a correction: you appear to be using “vagina” and “vulva” interchangeably. The vagina is one part of the vulva, but the vulva has other parts which are at least as important to women as the vagina is to men. So is the poem about her vagina or her vulva?

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-08-02 00:23:28

Karen, the term used in the poem is ‘fud’. As the Latin verb ‘futuere’ means the “business” (i.e. to do ‘coitus’, but not necessarily in combination with money), plus, I can confirm that it takes ‘both’, the inner parts and the outer ones, but last and not least, also all the rest.

Also, coitus/intercourse can be a ‘meeting’ –with none of those parts, but consequently no intercourse, i.e. not in that particular context (if you know what I mean). The poem separates the parts (i.e. vulva+vagina from the woman). Thus, in this particular case, it might be OK to address them separately.

The poem, however, clearly is about both (plus the essential rest, of inter-course).

Comment by Mysha
2019-08-04 04:35:08

Хер is not vulgar. It’s an euphemistic use of cyrillic letter Х’s name.

Comment by F. Tutor
2019-08-04 14:21:20

Thanks Mysha – The Cyrillic letter ‘Cha’/ ‘Kha’, i.e. Х and х, is obviously derived from the Greek letter Chi, i.e. Χ and χ. I have to point out that I do not speak any Russian.

I may have indeed messed it up: хер seems to be a better expression for хуй (which may be the true culprit here). However, I wont get how Χ is supposed to represent хуй, ..i.e. apart from the fact that both start with Χ – Would that fact, therefore, be the ‘secret’?!?


P.S.: There seems to be the phenomenon of мат or матерщи́на (‘the term for vulgar, obscene, or profane language in Russian and some other Slavic language communities’), and my ‘vulgar’ assumption was in fact meant to be a joke, so to speak a reminiscence to группировка Ленинград, a Russian band back from the 90ies.

According to a review in one of the more important newspapers in Germany back from 2006:

“…ten years have passed since then, and that [Ska-] band stuck to their roots ever since. If all the lyrics by [singer and front man] ‘Shnurov’ would be combined, the quintessence would be, how very heavy drinkers in very bad attire and with massive хуйі [was that correct?] had to constantly deal with unwilling hookers and notorious shortages in cash. [Their music] is backed up by the brass section of the Russian Ska-band ‘Spit Fire’ that Shnurov sometimes is leaning on for his own project…”

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