History and types 
Loincloths are being and have been worn:
- in societies where no other clothing is needed or wanted
- as an undergarment or swimsuit
- by the farmers in paddy fields in Sri Lanka and India, especially when they are working with mud
The loincloth or breechcloth is a basic form of dress, often worn as an only garment. Men have worn a loincloth or breechcloth as a fundamental piece of clothing which covers their genitals – not the buttocks – in most societies throughout human history which disapproved of genital nakedness. The loincloth is in essence a piece of material, bark-bast, leather or cloth, passed between the legs covering the genitals. Despite this simpleness of function the loincloth takes many forms.
A breechcloth, or breechclout, consists of a strip of material – bark, cloth, leather – passed between the thighs and secured by a belt. A loincloth is a long length of cloth, passed between the thighs and wound around the waist in one of many fashions to cover the genitals with decency. Breechcloths and loincloths are garments of dignity among those who traditionally wear them. The styles in which breechcloths and loincloths can be arranged are myriad. Both the Bornean sirat and the Indian dhoti have fabric pass between the legs to support a man's genitals.
A particular style of loincloth (more typical of tropic regions) consists of a single long strip of bark-cloth or woven cloth. This was used by the inhtabitants of the Austronesian speaking area of Southeast Asia and Oceania, where it was known as chawat [cawat], sirat, bah, bahag, maro or malo. The cawat/maro style loincloth is an important cultural marker of the region.
Various cultures in tropical Africa wore or still wear loincloths, often as (nearly) the only traditional garment for every day use. The loincloth of Southern African Bushmen, called xai, is a piece of skin roughly T-shaped with long ties at the corners of the arms. The free end is pulled in back and tucked under the ties.
The ancient Egyptians, both men and women, wore loincloths as underwear, the men beneath their kilt-like schenti. These loincloths consisted of fine linen cloths in a triangular shape with ties at the two corners. The base of the triangle was placed at the small of the back and the ties tied in front, then the point or apex was drawn between the legs and tucked under the string, exactly the opposite of the Bushman fashion.
A similar style of loincloth was also characteristic of ancient Meso-America. The male inhabitants of the area of modern Mexico wore a wound loincloth of woven fabric. One end of the loincloth was held up, the remainder passed between the thighs, wound about the waist, and secured in back by tucking.
In Pre-Columbian South America, ancient Inca men wore a strip of cloth between their legs held up by strings or tape as a belt. The cloth was secured to the tapes at the back and the front portion hung in front as an apron, always well ornamented. The same garment, mostly in plain cotton but whose aprons are now, like t-shirts, sometimes decorated with logos, is known in Japan as etchu fundoshi.
Some of the culturally diverse Amazonian Indians still wear ancestral type of loincloth.
In most of (sub-)tropical continental Asia, types of loincloth such as the Indian lungi, often unisex or with a close female counterpart, remain in use as traditional dress, especially among the rural peasant communities, while city dwellers tend to adopt western style costumes. An elaborate, decorated form is also worn as the only garment in certain martial arts, such as Kerala's Kalaripayattu; like the aptly named boxer shorts, it must allow the fighters free, even acrobatic movement.
Japanese men traditionally wear (formerly always) a loincloth known as a fundoshi. The fundoshi is a 35 cm (14 inch) wide piece of fabric (cotton or silk) passed between the thighs and secured to cover the genitals.
Men of Indo-European culture, Greeks, Romans and Scandinavians, wore the loincloth more or less habitually. (Women wore a fuller version, with ties before and behind, "bikinis" called a "perizoma", as depicted on the mosaics at Piazza Armerina.) An ancient version of the loincloth, the breechcloth, was found in the Alps on a ca. 2000 BCE archaeological find named Ötzi.
After the fall of the Roman empire, the loincloth disappeared in Europe. Trousers of one kind or another, which had been considered a Celtic oddity in the Ancient Mediterranean cultures, were prescribed for men.
When Westerners once again came into contact with loincloths elsewhere, they viewed it as an exotic and indecent garment, possibly because the wearer's buttocks were partially exposed. The connection of loincloth-wearing with "backwardness" became even more pronounced in the 19th century heyday of colonialism and industrialisation. Often the only garment black male slaves in the tropical colonies were permitted to wear was a scanty breechcloth, while even working class in the West wore at least a shirt and trousers.
At present the loincloth is nearly extinct as normal male wear in the industrialized world, except in certain contexts in Japan. However, in some cases it is worn as part of tribal - or national dress, either for the benefit of tourists, by tradition or as a statement. It is occasionally worn in jest by naturists on the village square and near the port of the naturist village Ile du Levant, where by law some cloth must be worn.
See also 
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