In this context, Sarah Baartman, the Hottentot Venus, became an icon of hyper-sexualized racial difference thanks to her two main body features: her Hottentot apron
, that is, her elongated labia, and her steatopygia or the prodigious size of her buttocks and hips.
Concerning the labia minoria or the Hottentot apron
, "investigators of racial differences would spend the eighteen century debating its anatomical specifications, producing in the absence of actual evidence a variety of phantasmatic representations" (Wiegman, 1995, p.
Although Kolb had insisted strongly on the need to subject all stories about the Khoikhoi to first-hand scrutiny, a procedure that led him to dismiss many legends as 'Excesses of the Imagination' (Kolb, 1731: 1, 37), he also confirmed many reports that marked their profound cultural and even physical difference from Europeans: he testified, for example, to witnessing the 'Hottentot apron', the excision of one testicle from the men, and the practice of spreading darkened grease over their bodies.
Such efforts, however, needed to explain all that allegedly made Hottentots non-human and alien, such as the 'Hottentot apron' and the pendulous breasts noted by early travellers to the Cape.
Her body was dissected, and her brain and the "Hottentot apron
" that resulted from the stretching of her labia, placed in jars.