From the bamboo bride to the traveling lady to Alma Mahler’s sad effigy, discover the history of adult dolls.
According to the historian Julien Arbois, the first dolls for sexual use appeared in the seventeenth century, born of the ingenious brains of the Dutch navigators.
Indeed, they were inspired by an Asian tradition observed during their expeditions in Southeast Asia, that of “pillows to cuddle”, also called “bamboo wives” or “bamboo ladies” depending on the country.
This practice, still in use today in some Asian countries, is simply to place a kind of oblong cage made of braided bamboo between the arms and thighs of the sleeper to help the body to breathe and cool on hot summer nights. But, according to the Dutch, this would not be their only use.
In fact, historians report that these large inert puddings could also serve as partners and were also used by these gentlemen to curl up … and more if affinity was good. In short, to replace the woman when she was absent or reluctant to perform her duties. The historian also reports that at that time, the Japanese used to use artificial vulvas made in shells of turtles lined with satin they called substitutes for women.
The Dutch sailors would then have had the idea to make, too, their simulacra of women in the form of dolls made of patched rags, not to air the legs, but to keep them company and deceive the boredom during long crossings. Called “ladies of travel” these sex dolls aboard ships and on which sailors were engaged in multiple assaults quickly became – it is inevitable – nests microbes.
Nevertheless, this practice spread to most European fleets at the time, so much so that the English dubbed them “Dutch wives”, while the French spoke of “wife of the captain”!
In the 1938 International Review of Colonial Products, there is a description of dutch wives, presented as a kind of bolster, sausage-shaped, stuffed with kapok (mattress stuffing) and no bed nor in hotels nor in European and native dwellings in the Netherlands Indies is complete without this object.
However, here the author is careful not to make any reference to the sexual nature of the object and reminds that its function is above all hygienic since held between the knees, it prevents excessive sweating and dermatitis. Thus, the traveler who enters his hotel room should not be surprised to find the providential dip pouch on his bed as Olympia Manet, ready to be embraced.
But it will be necessary to await the beginning of the 20th century and the invention of vulcanized rubber to see appearing the inflatable doll. According to the historian Jean-Yves Mollier, it is especially on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in Paris that the first dolls were manufactured to be sold by the itinerant traders, the hawkers, to the rich visitors of the exhibition.
It is said that the police, tracking the sellers of pornographic objects, seized a number of them. In Les Détraqués de Paris (1904), René Schwaeblé relates the manufacture, by a certain Dr. P. of such dolls with hair and meeting all the expectations of a demanding clientele.
In several newspapers of the time, there is the trace of Napoleon Hayard (Léon Hayard), said the Emperor of the hawkers, a happy dril always wearing a bowler hat and well known to Parisians for its eccentricities. The latter would have been charged with insulting morality because, in addition to selling lustful images, he would have embarked on the marketing of these famous women rubber.
Quickly very realistic models of female and male inflating dolls were made in Europe, body fluids included! In 1906, the German psychiatrist Iwan Bloch reports in his book The Sexual Life of Our Time: skilful mechanics who, with rubber and other plastic materials, prepare whole bodies of men or women who, like men or ladies of travel, are dedicated to fornicatory purposes.
More particularly, the genitals are represented in a way that is faithful to nature. This involves even the secretion of Bartholin’s glands is imitated via a pneumatic tube filled with oil. In the same way, by means of appropriate fluids and apparatus, the ejaculation of the sperm is imitated. And these pneumatic dolls were sold at exorbitant prices due to high demand.