“Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies.” Song of Solomon 7:2
The navel is a scar on the belly where the umbilical cord was attached to the body and thus all placental mammals have a navel. Directly after a baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and the little piece of umbilical cord that is left will dry and fall off after a one to three weeks.
Although all placental mammals have belly buttons, in Christian religion it is believed that Adam and Eve did not have a navel, because they were created by God and were thus never attached to a mother.
In Western culture showing your belly and navel has been a taboo for a long time and displaying one´s navel only started with the introduction of the modern bikini in 1946 by Louis Réard (which was at that time a shocking piece of swimwear). He could not find a model to show his bathing suit so he ended up hiring a nude dancer, Micheline Bernardini. This didn´t mean that it was all that normal to show your belly button. In the 1960´s actresses had to cover up their navels and when Cher exposed her navel on television in the 1970´s, it was a first.
In Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Hebrew culture the navel was seen as life giving and had a position of centrality to the world. That is the reason why Nippur (an old Sumerian city) was often called the Navel of the Earth.
In Indian culture, especially in Southern India, however showing your navel has been a style since a long time, where women have worn saris that show the midriff for centuries. It is believed in India that the navel has a mystical association with life and birth and showing it underlines this connection. The navel of the god Vishnu is seen as the center of the universe and the source of life from which a new world emerges.
In the early Jōmon period (appr. 12,000 BC) in Northern Japan, the navel was represented exaggerated in size, symbolizing the center of life. In Japanese mythology, the thunder god Raijin was believed to love navels of young babies and children and for this he navel should be well covered up. The Japanese consider the navel to be the source of person´s warmth.
Since navels are like little pools in which all sorts of stuff can get stuck, it may not seem like a big surprise that in 2012 a group of scientists found 2,368 bacterial species in 60 belly buttons, of which 1,458 may be new to science (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/1-458-bacteria-species-new-to-science-found-in-our-belly-buttons/266360/).
Another interesting fact: the largest navel lint collection belongs to Graham Barker, an Australian librarian, who has obtained 22.1 grams of fluff that he has collected in jars. Want to know more about his collection (and can your stomach handle it)? Check out his website: http://www.feargod.net/history.php.
The word navel comes from Old English nafela/nabula, from Proto-Germanic *nabalan, from Proto Indo European *(o)nobh-, navel.
Dutch navel has the same origins.
Spanish ombligo and Italian ombelico derive from Latin umbilicus, navel, also meaning the center of anything, from Proto Indo European *ombh-alo-, suffixed variant form of the root *(o)nobh-,navel.
the small, hollow or raised area in the middle of your stomach (source: Merriam Webster).
Navel in other languages:
Spanish: l´ombligo (m)
Italian: l´ombelico (m)
Categories: The human body