This is part two of three in Sex Manuals of the Past. Part one can be found here.
Before the Kama Sutra was written, there were other texts that were already circulating in country’s that had started trading with India some time around the fourth century A.D. One of which was the Tao doctrine, or The Way of the Chinese. This belief could not be more opposite of the western beliefs of Christianity that were being developed around the same time. The Tao belief was that the way to heaven or the divine was through sex, going as far as to say that a man could increase his chances of getting into “Heaven” by sleeping with as many women as he could, including promoting sex with multiple women within one night.
Within the Tao belief is based upon the concept Yin and Yang, a energy with men and women and the need to have these energies in balance. These energies are described much like what we now know as hormones. Intercourse was used to balance these energies. Yang was the masculine energy while Yin is the energy of a women. When a couple performs sexual acts, the Taoist believed that these energies were transferred between the partners. In a fashion they were correct, as it describes that a mans Yang can be exhausted and he will need to rest to restore his Yang, in this they could have been referring to the semen and seminal fluid. Tao’s also describes a woman's Yin to be ever abundant and without limit.
The Taoist believed that a man's Yang was not to be wasted, so while they did involve fellatio in their sexual practices, it was considered to be “unhealthy” to do so until ejaculation. This same belief also passed into their belief of masturbation for men, and so was rare. On the flip side of this coin, there were no restrictions made on women when it came to masturbation and oral sex, in fact it was encouraged as a way to increase the “flow” or energy during sex. For these reasons, while it was seen as normal to have same sex relationships, for both sexes, it was considered unhealthy to restrict yourself to only same sex relations. This idea of energy flow and seeing sex as an art can easily be seen just in the names of the positions that they used. The four basic postures are called: The Unicorns Horn (woman on top), Close Attraction (laying side by side and face to face), and The Fish Sunning Itself (rear entry). The rest of the 26 positions are titled in a similar manor with some very artful names. Some highlights are: Cat and Mice Sharing a Hole, A Phoenix Playing in a Red Cave, Butterflies in Flight, and A Huge Bird Above a Dark Sea.
There were many sex manuals published in both the Han and Shin dynasties in China. Most of which were based around the “Jade Chamber”, which loosely could be seen as the bedchamber, as they were grouped together as the “Art of the Bedchamber.” Within these manuals they not only discussed the act of intercourse, but also many of the other aspects of foreplay, relationships, and warnings of when to have sex. It was said in most of these that if either party was not receptive to the others sexual advances that it could be harmful to the unwilling party. This early mention of consent speaks that while the Tao belief may have been one of high sexual desire, that it had to be with the consent of both and not just the male as is depicted in most early male dominant civilizations.
It was once thought by western scholars that the Chinese did not believe in kissing as they thought the Chinese considered it close to cannibalism. It was later discovered that this was a miscommunication, and that the Chinese did kiss but viewed it as something done as part of the sex act and to be done in private and not in the public eye. This belief shows us that the Taoists considered anything intimate, while a religious experience, it was also something that was also only to be witnessed by the parties involved. However, while this experience in the Taoist eyes were a private, it was also seen as something to be shared. To this end, it was not uncommon for a follower of Tao to take on many wives and concubines. Granted your class and wealth dictated how many you would have, with the royalty having hundreds, the upper class having somewhere around a hundred, the middle class in the neighborhood of double digits, and the peasants might be lucky to have over five.
There are some parts of the Tao texts that talk about group sex, orgies, and involving more then just one partner (usually another wife or concubine), it was not unheard of that parties would be held just for the act of balancing your Yin and Yang. These parties were sometimes held as a way to “heal” someone stricken with an illness, and could involve multiple households. This lifestyle of polygamy was characterized within the marriage ceremony, where the principle new wife brought along her sisters and maids along with her to become secondary wives to him. While this might seem odd to any raised in a monogamous society, this custom where the marriage was prearranged by the groom, the grooms family and the brides family, the new bride might not meet her new husband until there weeding, and upon which was moved into his family compound. Here she would meet the rest of her new family for the first time the morning following her wedding. So in this she was completely separated from her family, having her sisters and maids with her allowed some familiarity in her now very unfamiliar world. This custom was also viewed as odd by the other major influence of the Kama Sutra, in the form of the Hindu beliefs whom at this same time were starting trade with India in the fourth century A.D.
Part three will be up on Friday.
Keep it kinky!