The Archaeology Of The Cock Ring.
History

The Archaeology Of The Cock Ring.

Published
Jun 12, 2022
Author
Mike Rampton

How far back does the cock ring go?

Cock rings aren’t discussed much. Part of it might come down to their name—it’s a rare example of something where the most common name for it is also the most aggressive-sounding. When used medically for men suffering from erectile dysfunction, they are often referred to with the much less loaded term ‘tension rings’.  

The science of them is straightforward enough—they don’t let the blood within an engorged penis flow back into the body, meaning the penis stays more erect for longer than it would without the assist. 

But where did cock rings come from? Who came up with the idea of turning the penis into a one-way system for blood? As far as cock ring historians are concerned—and there isn’t a lot of them about—the innovation dates from the Chinese Jin Dynasty.

(There were two entirely separate dynasties, seven centuries apart, which have their different names anglicized into the same spelling, Jin. The first Jin Dynasty lasted from 266 to 420, while the second—the one we’re discussing here—went from 1115 to 1234, when Genghis Khan took over China.)

Back in twelfth-century China, modern materials like latex and silicone were the stuff of dreams, so men who wanted larger, harder erections had to be imaginative. This was a time when a wealthy man would have had a large number of concubines, and wish to produce heirs with all of them—anything that might help would be utilized.

The solution they reportedly settled on was a goat eyelid, complete with eyelashes. The elasticity of the eyelid was presumably the major selling point, but leaving the eyelashes on suggested they played a part themselves, potentially providing extra stimulation for the wearer’s partner.

(You can still buy goat-eyelid cock rings online if you so desire, although the benefits they would have over the myriad modern options available seem scant. “All-natural” is about the biggest selling point—although try explaining that to the goat.)

The other thing is that there might be more ancient cock rings floating about than we know. It’s a pretty lo-fi innovation, after all—it seems almost certain it would have been independently invented by various people. There is a statue in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, built around 500, that absolutely appears to be wearing a cock ring. However, there is a tendency within archaeology and academia to view artifacts through both a modern and conservative lens, making obvious and mundane assumptions about objects based on our own views of the world. In the case of the statue, its penis seems to have simply been ignored—all the work around it focuses on refinements in how muscular detail is rendered, rather than asking what the thing on the guy’s dick is.

There are a lot of curved, barbell-like “dress fasteners” dating from the Bronze Age that may have had nothing to do with the fastening of dresses and everything to do with controlling penile blood flow. However, a “sensible” purpose has been ascribed to them. “This line of reasoning is always seductive – seeing the past not only as a mirror of the present but as a mirror of current middle-class propriety – but is most probably wrong,” writes archaeologist Robert M. Chapple. Ascribing purposes to found objects and having these become codified as fact stops questions being asked that perhaps should be asked—such as “dress fastener” which would do a pretty bad job of keeping a dress fastened and a pretty good job as a cock ring…

There are risks associated with cock ring use. Doctors recommend a thirty-minute maximum, and immediate removal if feeling any numbness or pain. Falling asleep with one on is an extraordinarily bad idea, as it can lead to priapism or in extreme cases gangrene. This in turn can necessitate amputation, a pretty extreme result to get from a nap.

The Archaeology Of The Cock Ring.

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