The Fig Leaf Defined
In a specific sense, the fig leaf is the leaf of the fig tree laid atop the pubis and genitals for the purpose of modesty (AE0010, AE0020). It can be worn by both sexes. It is thus a species of culotte, one in which the buttocks remain bared. Its advantage is that when wet or affixed with an adhesive such as gum arabic it does not require a waistband. In a more general sense, a fig leaf may be considered any garment which is affixed to the pubic hair and genitals for the purpose of covering them, and which does not incorporate a waistband. It is thus topologically equivalent to a sideless g-string which might be worn by a modern ecdysiast.
Fig Leaf Origins
The fig leaf is the first bikini. It is most probably a Neanderthal invention and is popularly attributed to Eve and Adam, who resided in the Garden of Eden in the Late Pleistocene Epoch of Paleolithic times (circa 100,000-35,000 BC). It is important to note that Paleolithic societies have existed from 2,500,000 years ago up into the present, and although the fig leaf may have been reinvented many times, its importance as a covering emerged once the couple acquired erotic awareness, possibly as sex differentiation developed with the advent of hunting.
In some primitive cultures jewelry and waistbands evolve prior to fig leaves, and in many of these societies the decoration of the genitals, for example the wearing of penis shells by men, is widely practiced. Obviously a fig leaf plus a waistband equals a loincloth. These various costume developments are chronicled in the Primitive Costumes page of the Bikini Science Times.
The fig leaf is usually worn topless.
Topless and fig leaf is reported to be the first costume.