What Is Kuvada, Or Why Men "got Pregnant" And "gave Birth"

What Is Kuvada, Or Why Men "got Pregnant" And "gave Birth"
What Is Kuvada, Or Why Men "got Pregnant" And "gave Birth"

Video: What Is Kuvada, Or Why Men "got Pregnant" And "gave Birth"

Video: IF MEN WERE PREGNANT! 2022, November

In modern anthropology, the term "kuvada" refers to special ritual actions performed by a man when his partner is pregnant or giving birth. During the Kuvada, representatives of the stronger sex radically change their lifestyle and even sometimes imitate pregnancy themselves. Now this phenomenon is rare, mainly among peoples who have preserved pagan beliefs, but in the old days the ritual was widespread everywhere, including in Europe.


The word "couvade" comes from the French language, in which it literally means "hatching eggs". In France, this rite has existed for many centuries, mainly among the Basques inhabiting the southwestern part of the country. Now the inhabitants of the Pyrenees have forgotten about him and the mention of the cuvade can be heard only in ancient Basque tales and songs.

So if you want to get to know the men who practice kuwadu better, you will have to travel to South America or Southeast Asia, where several tribes continue to adhere to ancestral traditions. Despite the fact that ritual pregnancy is widely forgotten, some funny customs associated with it exist in different parts of the world, including among the peoples inhabiting Siberia and Pomorie.

Kuwada is different

There are many different forms of kuvada, ranging from soft, almost symbolic, to hard extreme forms. The simplest and most common version of the ritual can be called food prohibitions imposed on the future father while his wife is carrying a child. There are also bans on the participation of husbands of pregnant women in some agricultural work.

Such a couvada can still be found in India, in the Travancor region. There men, seven days after giving birth, the spouses are not allowed to agricultural work and eat exclusively fruit. A hundred years ago, among the Eskimos of Greenland, men were forbidden to hunt and fish from a boat for several weeks if a newborn was expected in his family.

Both Indians and Eskimos believed that if the rules were not followed, then serious problems and even mortal danger awaited the woman in labor and the baby. Sometimes the husband needed to be more involved in childbirth. For example, in Russia, a husband, before giving birth to a child, untied all the knots on his clothes in order to help the woman in labor to be safely relieved of the burden.

The least troublesome kind of kuvada for the stronger sex was the custom of depicting pain during childbirth and demanding comfort, gifts and treats from others. This is how the boys of some African and South American tribes "helped" wives to give birth.

The behavior of men among the peoples of the northern coast of the Black Sea in the era of antiquity looked approximately the same. Apollonius of Rhodes in his poem "Argonautica" wrote the following about the cuvada:

Heroes rushed past the neighboring land of Tibarens. There, whenever a wife gives birth to a child for her husband, the husbands themselves, prostrate on the couches, groan, covering their heads, the wives, having care for them, they are fed And the ablutions prepared for them are the same as for women in childbirth.

In the Smolensk province they went even further. There, a man climbed onto the bed during the birth of his wife, and the midwife tied a string to his genitals. During labor pains, she pulled on her, thereby causing pain to the future father. Already in the 20th century, among the Bespop Old Believers from the upper reaches of the Kama, there was a custom to put on a man some detail of a woman in labor in order to magically convey to her husband a part of her pain.

Childbirth in the Russian village

The same Old Believers sometimes attracted random guests to the kuvada, who were not entirely happy to involuntarily participate in the ritual.In 2000, ethnographers recorded the story of a man who was forced to stay overnight in a house where a woman was about to give birth.

To convey to the guest some of her torment, the hosts mixed the guest with a laxative, which made him sit under the bushes more than walk the whole next day. This was done because the woman in labor did not have a husband and a stranger who was not part of the family had to take part in the couvada. It was, by the way, in the 20th century, and not in the dead Middle Ages. The Old Believers called this rite "timid torment".

Breastfeeding father

The most radical manifestation of kuvada can be considered a complete imitation by a man of the behavior of a pregnant woman, a woman in labor and a young mother. The men complained of not feeling well, went to bed next to the baby and imitated breastfeeding.

A similar rite was practiced by the Indians of the Caribbean islands. There, a man 5 days after the birth of his wife lay with the baby next to him and completely abstained from food and drink. Then for 5 days he refreshed himself only with mabi - local beer from the fermented bark of the colubrin tree. This was followed by 30 days, when it was allowed to add cassava fruits to the mabi, and for 41 days, the cuvada ended with a traumatic ritual.

As a sign of the completion of a kind of fast, the relatives and friends of the newly-made father scratched his skin with the sharp fangs of animals and rubbed hot pepper into his wounds. It was forbidden to wash off the ritual composition, so one can imagine what the parent felt.

But not everywhere Kuvada was associated with torture and starvation. The famous medieval Asian explorer Marco Polo described the behavior of men in families in southern China, where a child had just been born:

“The wife will give birth, the child will be washed, wrapped in linen, the husband goes to bed and the child is with him; He lies for 40 days and gets up only when needed. Friends and family visit him, stay with him, have fun and amuse him. This is done because the wife, they say, is exhausted with the child in her womb, so she should not suffer for another 40 days; and the wife, as soon as she gives birth, gets up and starts managing, and serving her husband in bed."

As scientists explain the couvada

The study of kuvada began relatively late - in the second half of the 19th century. Ethnographers put forward many hypotheses about the origin of this custom, but could not come to a common solution. In the earliest theories, the ritual was called a remnant of matriarchy, which emerged at the time of the transition to patriarchy.

According to pundits, men, imitating pregnancy and childbirth, reproduced the logic of maternal inheritance typical of matriarchy. Earlier, when promiscuity reigned in society, it was almost impossible to establish paternity and kinship was determined along the female line. It was believed that the kuvada is a relic of the times when children had mothers, but no one cared about fatherhood. This theory was later rejected as contrived and unscientific.

Relatively recently, the kuvada began to be interpreted as a practice of power redistribution. In a patriarchal society, childbearing humiliates men, who are used to being the first in everything. Thus, the stronger half is trying to return to the "status quo" and prove that they are no worse than mothers.

The most modern scientific studies completely deny the connection between various manifestations of kuvada in different eras in different places of the planet. Ethnographers believe that the phenomenon is too diverse and everywhere has its own special roots, and to drive it into a general framework is scientific myopia.

One way or another, but the cuvada, which has existed for millennia, sometimes manifests itself in an inexplicable way in modern families. It is known that in the Western world, up to 40% of men experience discomfort and even pain when their partner gives birth. Even distances do not affect this phenomenon - a husband and wife can be in different hemispheres, but at the same time feel such a mystical connection. There are also cases of postpartum depression in men, which is also difficult to explain.

See also - Features of primitive sex, or Who slept with whom in the Stone Age

Liked? Want to keep abreast of updates? Subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook page or Telegram channel.

Popular by topic