Asian erotica  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

There has been a long tradition of erotic painting among the Eastern cultures. In Japan, for example, shunga appeared in the 13th century and continued to grow in popularity until the late 19th century when photography was invented. Similarly, the erotic art of China reached its popular peak during the latter part of the Ming Dynasty. In India, the famous Kama Sutra is an ancient sex manual that is still popularly read throughout the world.

There has been a long tradition of erotic painting in the East. Japan, China, India, Persia and other lands produced copious quantities of art celebrating the human faculty of love. The works depict love between men and women as well as same-sex love. One of the most famous ancient sex manuals was the Kama Sutra, written by Vātsyāyana in India during the first few centuries CE.

In Japan, the erotic art found its greatest flowering in the medium of the woodblock prints. The style is known as shunga and some of its classic practitioners (e.g. Harunobu, Utamaro) produced a large number of works. Painted hand scrolls were also very popular. Shunga appeared in the 13th century and continued to grow in popularity despite occasional attempts to suppress them, the first of which was a ban on erotic books known as kōshokubon issued by the Tokugawa shogunate in Kyōhō 7 (1722). Shunga only ceased to be produced in the 19th century when photography was invented.

The Chinese tradition of the erotic was also extensive, with examples of the art dating back as far as the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). The erotic art of China reached its peak during the latter part of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

In both China and Japan, eroticism played a prominent role in the development of the novel. The Tale of Genji, the work by an 11th-century Japanese noblewoman that is often called “the world’s first novel,” traces the many affairs of its hero in discreet but carnal language. From 16th-century China, the still more explicit novel The Plum in the Golden Vase has been called one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. The Tale of Genji has been celebrated in Japan since it was written, but The Plum in the Golden Vase was suppressed as pornography for much of its history, and replaced on the list of four classics.

The oldest sex manuals come from Asia. The oldest sex manual in the world is the Chinese 'Handbooks of Sex' written 5,000 years ago by Emperor Huang-Ti (2697-2598 B.C.) It is also believed that the 'Tao of Love Coupling' originated from Huang-ti. A book entitled Su-Nui Ching, became the sexual bible and medical guidebook for many generations.

The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, believed to have been written in the 1st to 6th centuries, has a notorious reputation as a sex manual, although only a small part of its text is devoted to sex.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Asian erotica" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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