Bondage in the Ice Age: BSDM 20,000 BCE!

About twenty-two thousand years ago a tribe of humans crunched across white grass in a frozen landscape that’s now called Russia. Somewhere near the Don river valley they left behind two little sculptures. That’s how we know that these people, whoever they were, passed that way. It’s also how we know something surprising about their sexual imagination.

Kostenski Venus figurine, with her wrists bound

Kostenski Venus figurine, with her wrists bound: 20,000 BCE

These two sculptures, each one about the size of your hand, are of women. Like other Paleolithic “Venus figures”, the women are naked, or nearly naked, with exaggerated sexual features: their breasts hang hugely, like great sacks of grain, and their bellies swell, pregnant and vastly fat, like a ship’s sails.

What’s unusual about them is that one of the two women is shown with her wrists cuffed and tied, while the other woman is shown wearing a sort of harness that both restricts her movements and emphasises her breasts. That’s all they are depicted as wearing, although these images were created in the middle of an Ice Age. These two little sculptures seem to be the oldest known bondage erotica.

That tribe moved on, their destination and fate unknown. Since their day humans have done and built a lot of things, but some things don’t change. For one thing, it can’t be said that Russia’s improved much.

For another, it’s still true that whenever a new medium appears, from carving rocks to 3D imaging, one of the first things people will do is use it to make sexual images and tell sexual stories. And shortly after the first nudes are produced, someone else will come along and use the new medium for more specific sexual desires.

So the cultural history of what people now mostly call “bdsm” began about 21,000 years ago. 

Constanze Mozart: Mozart wrote to her, promising her a "thorough spanking on her dear little, kissable arse", when he got home. Di he deliver? The look in her eye says yes.

Constanze Mozart: Mozart wrote to her, promising her a “thorough spanking on your dear little, kissable arse”, when he got home. Did he deliver? The look in her eye says yes.

People who are interested in bdsm have built up a quite impressive pile of art-works and artefacts. There are bdsm references in Mozart’s operas, Christopher Marlowe’s plays, and Mapplethorpe’s photos, just to skim the Ms for a second.

As a Mortimer, I’m quite proud of my sculpture, “Caning Bench No 1, with Comfort Saddle and Hooks for attaching Cuffs”. If some archeologist finds it  21,000 years from now, I hope he or she puts it to good use. 

But it’s odd that we – we people who do bdsm – have failed to celebrate our novelists, and our poets and painters and composers, and so on.

I’ll be doing to some of that celebration over the coming months. 

Probation Officer #188: The Samoan Minister 25

Sa’afia hesitated. “We were together for two years. Paul and I. He’s a really good man. He went back to Samoa to help people. I know you don’t think much of … churches. Nor do I, I guess, but it’s what you have to belong to if you want to help people in Samoa. Well, I didn’t go with him. I didn’t want to, not back to Samoa. I’ve got my degree to finish. But I can do that as a distance student. Sorry, anyway, he … asked me to come back. And I’ve thought about it. And.”

I knew what she was going to say, and that she was going to be unable to say it because she’d go back to sobbing. I reached for her to comfort her before she started, and held her shaking body in my arms. Her grief was real. Although she was hurting me, my sympathy for her was real too. But I felt, in the back of my mind, that we were performing. 

Eventually she said, “I’ve said yes.” Though I knew it was coming it still felt like being hit by a hammer.

I once – in a good cause – kicked open a door that an angry landlord was trying to nail shut. Weirdly, I hadn’t expected him to use the hammer on me. My point is that I know what being hit with a hammer is like. It’s like a woman you love telling you she’s going off to live with another man. 

I said, “Ump.” She looked at my face, worried at whatever she saw. Then I said, “But I love you. I’m in love with you. I need you.”

“No, you don’t.”

“What? I love you.”

“Oh, Jaime, I’m sorry. But I meant, you don’t need me.”

“Of course I need you!”

“No, you don’t, Jaime. You love me, I know that. But you’re in love with Ana. And she’s in love with you.”

“No! That’s just not true. Anyway I’m her parole officer.”

“But that’s nearly finished. Not in three months, you won’t be.” 

Probation Officer #187: The Samoan Minister 24

Finally, I said, “What’s going on? I didn’t know you wanted to get married?”

“Well, did you want to marry me?”

“Well, it never occurred to me. But if you’d raised it with me, I could have thought about. It’s not something that you just decide to do.”

“Jaime, you’d have just put if off as long as you could. It’s not something you want to do. I’m not sure you’ll ever want to do it.”

“Well. There are feminist objections…”

“Look, Jaime, you’re sort of feminist, most of the time, especially when it suits you. But that’s not the reason you’re not ready to get married. You don’t want to settle down, with one job, or one woman, or anything. Which is ok. Paul’s different. He’s a -” She stopped suddenly.

“He’s a man?”

“Darling, you’re a man. But you’re at a different stage in your life. He wants me, just me. You don’t want ‘just’ anything.”

“Hang on. Is this something to do with Ana?”

Probation Officer #185: The Samoan Minister 22

I shook my head. I spoke in my gentlest voice. If she could hear how much I loved her, she wouldn’t be telling me about some marriage. “What? Darling, my love, what?”

Sa’afia spilled more tears, and then they ran continuously. She whispered, “Oh, my love,” and shook her head. So I realised that word would do no good here.  

“What’s happened?” I’d seen how much calling her ‘darling, my love’ had hurt her. So I swallowed it. Anyway, she would see my nobility and this would go away. 

“You must have seen that I’ve been distant from you, this past week.” 


“I’m so sorry. Jaime, I so don’t want to hurt you.” 

I took a breath. In a second I’d thought of lots of things that I could say to that, but all of them were bitter. And fairly contemptible. I’d be sorry later. A couple of seconds too late I smiled at her. It must have looked strange. But I’d decided to let myself be in love with her. So her beauty hurt, but it was still luminous. “Well, what can you do? If you tell the truth it’s going to hurt. But it’s best to tell me. Who is this guy?”

“His name’s Paul. Well, Puleleiite. But Paul. To everyone, even Samoans. He’s a Minister. Anglican, not First Church, but no-one cares. We were going out. I mean for years. It was serious. Then he went to Samoa, to work for the church. I don’t know. I met you.” 

“And he’s come back? No. He’s said to come to Samoa?” Now there was some bitterness in my voice. 

“Ah huh.” Sa’afia broke down into sobs. 

It seemed odd that I should comfort her, who had broken my heart, but that’s how it is. And we were still neked together, and my cock was still coated with her fluids and foams. So I reached her and held her while she sobbed. I’d been dry-eyed to that moment. Then I wasn’t.   

Probation Officer #184: The Samoan Minister 21

Sa’afia eventually stirred. Perhaps I’d woken her by being so still, while I was trying not to wake her. 

She opened her eyes, and saw me looking at her face. “Hello, you.”  

I wondered how in hell had I not seen just how beautiful she was. I’d always thought she was beautiful, but how had I not seen just how perfect, how lustrous that beauty was. What her eyes were, what her face was, her hair, her body, her gentle and occasionally fierce mind.

She said, “Wh- what’s the time?”

How had I not seen her? I said, “It’s about four, but it doesn’t matter. Sa’afia.”


“Sa’afia, I think I’m falling in love with you. Well, not think. I know it. And not falling. I am. In love with you.”

But she looked sad. Luminously beautiful and sad. And then tears arrived, spilled.  “Oh, Jaime.”

“What’s the matter? What’s wrong? I thought –  I hoped  –  No. What’s the matter?”

“Oh Jaime. Oh Jaime. I’m sorry. I’m going to Samoa.”

“What? Why? Hang on. I’ll come too.”

“No. Jaime. Jaime, there’ve been things happening. It was fast, but I should have told you. I’m getting married.”

Probation Officer #183: The Samoan Minister 20

It was mid-afternoon. The sun had come out, and the dim light through my window had woken me. Sa’afia and I had fallen asleep, a tangle of limbs and crumpled sheets. I lay on my side, pressed against Sa’afia’s back. The heat from her bottom and thighs blazed against my cock and my legs, and I savoured it. I glanced down, as much as possible without moving, and admired purple-red bruising and the raised welts across her buttocks and upper thighs.

I felt immensely proud. I’d done well by her. I’d met her apparently inexhaustible need for orgasms and pain, and I’d kept her safe.

I wasn’t sure what had raised her passion to that intensity, but something in that passion had changed me a little. I’d always been careful with her, as I had been with other lovers, to say she was lovely rather than saying, “I love you”. She had not been careful; she’d given herself to me. She’d held nothing back, and that had touched me.

Why should I always be careful? What was I protecting? Telling her that I loved her would be welcome, and it would be true.

I’d made up my mind. But I had to wait for her to wake up.    

Probation Officer #182: The Samoan Minister 19

Sa’afia lay arched over my knee, fingers and toes touching the carpet as I’d told her. I spanked her firmly and fast with the back of my hairbrush, while she squirmed and demanded more. She wasn’t in subspace, but a more demanding, needy place, where she wanted more pain than I was prepared to give her. 

I’d have said, if she’d asked me, that I was rationing the pain she was allowed because I was concerned about her physical safety. But that was only part of it. To give her as much hurt as she wanted just then, I’d have to have been darker, emotionally, than I wanted to be. I have my own limits, and I’d already learned that I was never happy with myself if I went past them. 



Still, one last hard smack on the soft undercurve of her arse broke the brush. It was only that the glue that held two sections together gave up, but it seemed dramatic. A chunk of hairbrush fell to the floor beneath her. The split had pinched her skin for a fraction of a second before it parted, and there was a thin line, about four centimetres long where it had drawn blood. 

Sa’afia had jerked her body forward, and then held herself still, waiting to see how I was going to react. I hoped she was shocked. I said, “you broke my brush.”

I hoped she might find that dramatic. Then I added, “cool”. Idiotically. I ran my finger along the little beads of blood and held the finger to her mouth. She licked it clean. 

I liked that. I pushed her off my lap, onto the floor. I smacked her ass while she sprawled, and pulled her up by her hair, roaring at her to bend over the bed. Sa’afia obeyed, arching her rump up like a cat, ready to be taken. I took her.  

Probation Officer #181: The Samoan Minister 18

It was a cold day, and once I’d dragged Sa’afia inside we’d gone straight for my bedroom. I’d left a heater on, so that once I’d closed the door she could be naked and still comfortable.

I pull Sa’afia’s dress up over her breasts, and then further so that it covered her head and trapped her arms. While she was helpless I pushed her so she landed on my bed, and I was on her and in her before she had recovered. The fuck was fast and extravagant, with nothing withheld or concern given for time or her pain or our energy. I struck her thighs as they pressed against my sides, wanting to rewaken the fire where I had already bruised her with her stick. She’d gasped, and those gasps had become orgasmic cries, her cunt contracting hard.

I stayed with her while she came, and pulled her dress all the way off. She face re-emerged, tousled. I said, “oh, there you are,” as if I was playing peek-a-boo with a baby. She stared at me without smiling, or answering, from a place where she didn’t know anything about words.

maybeI started our fuck again. She began to scream a few minutes later, as the orgasms came in waves, each a little higher. I have stupid, nerdish prides of every kind, but I soon lost count. She didn’t stop. It seemed that she came with every movement we made.

She’d raised her knees to press against her sides, to get my cock into her as deep as it could go. We were in some magic place; I’d never known her, or any woman in this state before.

Eventually her orgasms got smaller, and I stopped through sheer exhaustion. Her hair was wet with sweat and so was mine. the bottom sheet had been crisp and it too was soaked with our sweat and her pleasure. I could feel my heart pumping, and hers below me. We’d run in some contest, which we’d eventually lost. I felt triumphant. 

I blew a lock of hair away from Sa’afia’s eyes. She looked at me, for the first time in what felt like a long, long time. I wanted to say something fond. I said, “Whoa. My god.” 

Sa’afia muttered something. It sounded like like, “it-pee.” 

I kissed her nose. “What?” 

“Hurt me.” 


“Whip me.” 

I looked at her. She wasn’t saying anything to please me. She wasn’t capable, just then, of planning her speech for another’s benefit. She wanted all the sensation in the world. I pulled out of her. “Just a moment.” 

Flower and Snake (1974)

I’ve just seen this Japanese soft-core bondage porn film from the 1970s, “Flower and Snake”.

A rich businessman asks a hapless salaryman to “train” his wife, played by Naomi Tani, who he seems to have bought. It’s never explained where she came from or who sold her. (Or if it was, I missed it.) Anyway, the salaryman practises bondage on a blow-up sex doll, and then ties up the “wife”.

Eventually he rapes her so, this film having been made in the 1970s, he falls in love with her and she with him. But the whole film is barking mad, just weird. Sometimes it plays like a film about adult sex made by 5-year olds.

But time has taken away much of its power to be shocking: the comically terrible acting, the 70s haircuts, and some weird Freudian stuff about mothers, undercut it a lot. A lot of the time I couldn’t tell if it was trying to be funny, or if it just was unintentionally funny.

As I’ve said, the sexual politics are pretty dodgy, but “Flower and Snake” is probably less misogynist than, say, any Clint Eastwood film made that same year. Which isn’t a strong defence, and it’s not meant to be.

flower and snakeBut if you read it as a document from the past, and interpret it for what it says about being bdsm-y in Japan in the 1970s then it’s fascinating.

Also, the woman star, Naomi Tani, is amazing. Maybe the cinematographer was in love with her, or something. But she glows on screen while everyone else has faded. It’s still a weird, terrible film, but Naomi Tani is astonishing. She is beautiful and she can act. What the hell is she doing in this film?

Anyway, for people who think Japanese culture can get weird (how do you explain shops with one wall stacked with freeze-dried panties, worn once? how do you explain “unuseless inventions”? how do you explain goth lotita? how do you explain horror films about a giant moth?) this is one more example of The Weird.

I’m going to get back to my story tomorrow. I’m still catching my breath at the moment.