The Curious Practice of Execution By Golden Shower

Daven Hiskey 10
Humans have invented a variety of amazingly cruel and unusual ways to kill or maim one another (often for shockingly arbitrary reasons). And, of course, wars tend to bring out the worst in people; so it’s not surprising that war-time executions can occasionally be among the most bizarre and cruel.   On that note, I was recently reading the first volume of John Masters’ autobiography, Bugles and a Tiger, and came across one of the more bizarre execution methods, death by drowning a person in urine.

This method of execution was used by the Pathans (also known as “ethnic Afghans” and “Pashtuns”).  The women of this group, particularly in the Afridi tribe of the Pashtuns (who today primarily reside in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), would occasionally execute people this way, as mentioned by the British John Masters who was stationed in British India when he was 18 in 1933.

…if they [Pathans] captured any soldiers other than Muslims, and especially if the soldiers were Sikhs or British, they would usually castrate and behead them.  Both these operations were frequently done by the women.  Sometimes they would torture prisoners with the death of a thousand cuts, pushing grass and thorns into each wound as it was made.

Sometimes they would peg the prisoner out and, with a stick, force his jaws so wide open that he could not swallow, and then the women would urinate in his open mouth (taking turns) till he drowned.

This kind of cruelty was not confined to war, but was as much a part of the Pathans’ normal lives as were their sturdy independence… If a man suspected his wife of the most minor infidelity, he would cut her nose off… The Pathans punished an adulterer by forcing a thick and knobbly thorn twig down his penis.  They rewarded infringements of lesser laws by tearing a man’s tongue out by the roots.

If that all weren’t cringe-worthy enough:

It is still customary among some tribes in Assam (northeastern region in India)… to punish an unfaithful woman by tying her to a post with her legs apart over a quick-growing kind of bamboo, and leaving her there until the bamboo grows up into her womb and stomach and she dies.

Bizarrely, particularly given their stance on women and adultery, there are also a few reports of these “death by golden shower” executions being preceded by the women first gang raping the condemned man before drowning him in their urine.

Lest you go away thinking that it was just the Pashtuns who instituted various cruel punishments, during these various skirmishes that Masters was involved, he gives an account of a lot of cruelty on both sides.  For instance, in one case a wounded tribesman (both his legs broken) was captured. Contrary to an order given by the commanding officer of this battalion (no prisoners), his soldiers brought him in as a prisoner.  The officer was furious and then “ordered the prisoner to be pegged out, face up, in front of the quarter-guard.  There was no shade and the sun temperature was probably about 130.  The further order was that every man who passed should kick the prisoner in the testicles.”  The prisoner died later that evening and his body was placed in a location where a British soldier had previously been flayed alive by the Pashtuns.

If you liked this article and the Bonus Facts below, you might also like:

Bonus Facts:

  • The popular expression “Revenge is a dish best served cold” was originally a Pashtun saying that was adopted by the British and has since spread throughout the English speaking world.
  • Another slightly more bizarre very old Pashtun proverb, this one not catching on in the West, is “A woman for business, a boy for pleasure, a goat for choice”.  On the same vein from “Zakhimi Dil” (a Pashtun song), “There’s a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach, but, alas, I cannot swim…”  … errr.  Moving on…
  • The Amanita muscaria mushroom is used by the Koryak people of Siberia has a psychoactive drug.  What does this have to do with the price of eggs, you say?  Well, the active alkaloids in this mushroom pass through the body into urine without changing.  Thus, if you drink the urine of someone who has eaten these mushrooms, you can receive the same psychoactive effects.  Thus, members of the Koryak tribe often drink the urine of others, or their own, after the person has consumed these mushrooms. (Apparently, it’s cheaper to buy the urine than the mushrooms.)
  • A common “cure” for strep-throat in France used to be to soak a cloth, such as your stockings, in urine, then wrap it around your neck.
  • During the 17th century, French women also used to take urine baths as a skin beautifier.
  • In certain parts of Mexico, a common home remedy for a broken bone is to have a child pee in a bowl that contains charred corn.  This is then made into a paste and applied to the skin over the broken bone.
  • In Ancient Yoga, it was a frequent practice to drink your “morning” urine (mid-stream only, more on that later).  They believed it helped promote a meditative state.  There may actually be some scientific basis for this.  Melatonin and certain other chemicals are present in morning urine in fairly large quantities, which could potentially promote a meditative state.  However, this is not an active form of melatonin.  That being said, researchers at Newcastle University, Mills and Faunce, theorize that ingesting this urine in the morning may convert the melatonin back into an active form.
  • Peeing on jellyfish stings will not take away the sting (in fact it will very likely make it worse).  Find out how to cure a jellyfish sting here.
  • There is a theory proposed in a paper in the May 7, 1996 by the Theoretical Medicine Institute that drinking your own pee may work as a “cure” for cancer.  The theory is that with cancer cell antigens in the urine, when ingested again, it will help your own immune system create antibodies and so your body may well be able to cure itself of cancer.  No formal research (that I could find) has yet been done to test this theory.
  • Sarah Miles, a British actress, stated that she’s been drinking her own pee for over 30 years, as she feels it positively affects her health in a variety of ways.
  • Another somewhat famous person who drinks his own urine is Lyoto Machida (famed Brazilian mixed martial artist).  He once had a cough that just wouldn’t go away. His father recommended that he start drinking his own urine.  He did and the cough went away. Coincidence?
  • Former Major League Baseball player Moisés Alou frequently urinated on his hands during his career.  He felt the net effect of this was to get rid of calluses on his hands.
  • Pop-diva Madonna once stated that she had a case of athlete’s foot that she cured by peeing on her feet.
  • One of the principal dangers of drinking urine comes from the high content of sodium in the urine.  This is particularly problematic when one is dehydrated, which perhaps, in survival settings where there is no water, is when some of us might be slightly tempted to do so. The sodium and other minerals in this urine will make it so that, although you’ll first feel like you’re no longer thirsty, within about a half hour you’ll feel thirstier than before.  As such, most survival guides, including the U.S. Army Field Manual, recommend that you do not drink your own urine, even if it’s the only fluid available. (There are of course various methods for extracting the pure water from the urine, which can get around this problem.)
  • If you insist on drinking urine, it’s recommended that you only drink “mid-stream” urine.  In other words, you pee for a couple seconds first, then start filling up your container for drinking the urine.  This first couple seconds of peeing will clear out most of the bacteria in your urethra, keeping the urine fairly sterile.
  • If you drink a lot of diet soda or otherwise consume a lot of artificial sweeteners, it will make your urine taste sweet.  If you don’t eat artificial sweeteners and your urine tastes sweet, you may be diabetic.
  • If you eat beetroot, it can make your pee turn reddish-pink.
  • An old Roman poem mentions the old practice of brushing your teeth with your own urine (criticizing a Gaul named Egnatius): “Egnatius, because he has snow white teeth, smiles all the time… what each man pisses, he’s used to brushing with teeth and red gums every morning, so the fact that your teeth are so polished, just shows you’re the more full of piss.”
Share the
Knowledge!
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail
Print Friendly
Enjoy this article? If so, get our FREE wildly popular Daily Knowledge and Weekly Wrap newsletters:

Subscribe Me To:  | 
Check Out Our New Book!»

10 Comments »

  1. SamIam December 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Reading this only reinforced my already existing conclusion that the there is no people more deserving of genocide than the pashtun.

  2. acid March 24, 2013 at 4:30 am - Reply

    Seems like a bunch of bullshit british time propaganda.. trying to find excuses and making up lies to invade other lands etc etc..how much of this can actually be confirmed?I want to know thanks.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey March 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      @acid: All of it. You won’t see it on this site unless there is a lot of evidence backing it up.

    • Raf December 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Yup. Because of course EVERY British soldier was a genocidal thieving maniac, and EVERY member of every colonised country was a total saint. Seems legit.
      Just because colonialism was bad, doesnt mean the previous regimes or cultures were good.
      The native Americans practiced scalping, and roasting people alive slowly over open fires.
      The Indians practiced suttee, throwing the widows of dead men into the funeral pyre.
      And the Pashtuns…well you get the idea dont you.

  3. Yer Pal March 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    This article made me feel real good about myself! At least I’m not like those primitive screwheads! I’m making all the right moves in life.

Leave A Response »