Tribal Nipple Removal

I was reading Mary Roach’s new book, “Bonk”, and in a chapter on clitoral relocation surgery is a brief note about the “Janjero tribe” —

…one culture cuts the nipples off boys, to masculinize them. Bonaparte gives a quote obtained from a nipple-less Janjero tribesman by an anthropologist named Cerulli. “We do this because we do not wish to resemble women in any way.”

Roach mentions that she was not able to confirm the above claim in a journal search, and I couldn’t find much about it either… The “Book of the Penis” by Maggie Paley also contains the following comment,

Among the Janjero of Ethiopia, a man who’s had both nipples and one testicle removed may never rule. All males with the exception of the king and his sons are mutilated in this manner. Members of the lowest class are left alone, since no one would let them rule in any case.

“Black God: The Afroasiatic Roots of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religions” by Julian Baldick and “Black Eros” by Boris de Rachewiltz, and a few web sites contain similar commentary about the puberty rites of the Janjero, but I couldn’t find anything I’d call definitive, and there’s an awful lot of fantasy in early anthropology. Still, I found it quite interesting because it’s the only reference to nipple removal / nipple nullification that I know of in a traditional context.

Anyway, I’m enjoying “Bonk” and will now get back to reading.


  1. wlfdrgn wrote:

    Friday, May 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  2. that’s crazy!

    Friday, May 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink
  3. Andrew wrote:

    I think tribal ways are fascinating. I used to work with lots of black people from Cape Town and their native tongue was Xhosa and Zulu. They made a big deal about a ritual boys had to go through at the age of 18. They were taken off into the bush with their farther and had to go through an initiation to become a man – and towards the end of the ritual they were circumcised by a bushmaster or something. One of the women I worked with brought some photos in to show me, her eldest son had been through this ritual — all the boys in the pictures looked scared shitless… She told me that she was going to pay for her youngest son to be circumcised when he was 18 because a lot of boys die from serious infections.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 2:53 am | Permalink
  4. AJ wrote:

    i liked bonk alot. i just finished chuck palahniuk’s new book SNUFF. i enjoyed that as well

    Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 5:11 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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