4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

What's the story about toilet paper?

Dear Matthew:

Is it true that in certain parts of the world, toilet paper is not an option, but rather the left hand is the primary wiping instrument? (With a subsequent rinsing in water-- running, I would hope.) Also, so as to not imply judgment from my Western point of view, when did toilet paper get invented, and how did we get along before that? We were discussing this over doughnuts in the office and would really like to know.

--Manuel Andrade, at work

No need to do the PC tap dance, Manuel. Truth is, the world's bum washers consider us bum wipers to be a horde of unsanitary primitives. What's more, they say, our Western toilets are ridiculous, badly designed devices. In much of the world, most notably the Middle East, India, and east through south Asia, a hole in the floor (with footprints helpfully painted on to help your aim) and a pitcher of water for the final clean-up is considered ergonomically optimal and far more hygienic. In these countries, with or without Western toilets and TP, the left hand is used for all ablutions, so it is a profound insult to eat with your left hand or even use it to hand someone a newspaper or the like. You may as well stick your left hand in your pocket and forget you have one.

The first paper made specifically for the bathroom appeared in the U.S. in 1857 in the form of packets of individual stacked sheets delicately called "therapeutic paper." The British pushed the TP-design envelope with rolls of perforated paper in 1879, but we mostly ignored it, since we already had catalogs, corn cobs, newspapers, etc. stacked in the outhouse. Why spend money for special paper? The next try, by the Scott paper company, came in the 1880s, when the modern ceramic toilet was a necessity in fine hotels and increasingly in the home. Scott's timing was perfect, and toilet paper became a domestic staple. A quick scan of TP history indicates that Chinese emperors used rice paper bum wipe in the 1300s; Vikings used shells and wood; ancient Romans used sponges; and the French court used lace.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

SPG turns RPG into BFD

Local costumed rockers are hot on the trail of a breakthrough
Next Article

The four levels of retro Christmas

Embrace the absolutely terrifying yuletide traditions of medieval Europe

Dear Matthew:

Is it true that in certain parts of the world, toilet paper is not an option, but rather the left hand is the primary wiping instrument? (With a subsequent rinsing in water-- running, I would hope.) Also, so as to not imply judgment from my Western point of view, when did toilet paper get invented, and how did we get along before that? We were discussing this over doughnuts in the office and would really like to know.

--Manuel Andrade, at work

No need to do the PC tap dance, Manuel. Truth is, the world's bum washers consider us bum wipers to be a horde of unsanitary primitives. What's more, they say, our Western toilets are ridiculous, badly designed devices. In much of the world, most notably the Middle East, India, and east through south Asia, a hole in the floor (with footprints helpfully painted on to help your aim) and a pitcher of water for the final clean-up is considered ergonomically optimal and far more hygienic. In these countries, with or without Western toilets and TP, the left hand is used for all ablutions, so it is a profound insult to eat with your left hand or even use it to hand someone a newspaper or the like. You may as well stick your left hand in your pocket and forget you have one.

The first paper made specifically for the bathroom appeared in the U.S. in 1857 in the form of packets of individual stacked sheets delicately called "therapeutic paper." The British pushed the TP-design envelope with rolls of perforated paper in 1879, but we mostly ignored it, since we already had catalogs, corn cobs, newspapers, etc. stacked in the outhouse. Why spend money for special paper? The next try, by the Scott paper company, came in the 1880s, when the modern ceramic toilet was a necessity in fine hotels and increasingly in the home. Scott's timing was perfect, and toilet paper became a domestic staple. A quick scan of TP history indicates that Chinese emperors used rice paper bum wipe in the 1300s; Vikings used shells and wood; ancient Romans used sponges; and the French court used lace.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Earliest sunsets, skiing in San Diego County

Christmas berries in the chaparral
Next Article

Nathaniel Hawthorne and his interest in history, morality and religion

The Scarlet Letter (1850), also carried over into his poetic output
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close