From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"In the West, there is an idea that the art of love in the East is more sophisticated than ours. Whether this is true, cannot be said with certainty. After all, what is sophisticated and how can we look into the bedrooms of countless couples who make love every night in the East? Do they make love like we do or is their business conducted in a more tantric way? Hard to ascertain, difficult to refute. We owe the image of the supposed oriental sexual sophistication to the Kama Sutra, a work that was written in the third century in India in Sanskrit and which shows similarities with the aforementioned Ars amatoria of Ovid, but is much more common and better-known."--The History of Erotica (2011) by J.-W. Geerinck
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.
- Khajuraho Group of Monuments
- Indian erotica, Sexuality in India
- Japanese erotica, Sexuality in Japan
- Chinese erotica, Sexuality in China