The closest western historical example of free public nudity was ancient Sparta, a society with rigorous codes of training and physical exercise, yet also having art and music. Spartan women wore briefer clothing than other Greek women, yet they sometimes dispensed with these garments and went nude in the town if they wished. (Customarily, they and other Greek men and women were nude at festivals of the Classical period). In Spartan society naked women or men in the city would probably have been treated with the same respect as clothed people. In general, however, concepts of either shame or offense, or the social comfort of the individual, seem to have been deterrents of public nudity in the rest of Greece and the ancient world in the east and west, with exceptions in what is now South America, and in Africa and Australia. Polybius asserts that Celts typically fought naked, "The appearance of these naked warriors was a terrifying spectacle, for they were all men of splendid physique and in the prime of life."
Ibn Battuta (1304–1369) judges the character of the people of Mali:
"Among their bad qualities are the following. The women servants, slave-girls, and young girls go about in front of everyone naked, without a stitch of clothing on them. Women go into the sultan's presence naked and without coverings, and his daughters also go about naked."
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