Item description for Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644 A.D. (Sinica Leidensia, Volume LVII) by Robert Hans Van Gulik & Paul Rakita Goldin...
In 1961 Robert van Gulik published his pioneering overview of Sexual Life in Ancient China. This edition of the work is preceded by an elaborate introduction by Paul Rakita Goldin assessing the value of Van Guliks volume, the subject itself, and its author.
The introduction is followed by an extensive and up-to-date bibliography on the subject, which guides the modern reader in the
literature on the field which appeared after the publication of Van Gulik's volume.
One of the criticisms in 1961 regarded the Latin translations of passages deemed too explicit by Van Gulik (and possibly the publisher).
In this 2002 edition all Latin has for the first time been translated into unambiguous English, thus making the full text widely available to an academic audience.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644 A.D. (Sinica Leidensia, Volume LVII)?
No guilt Aug 8, 2005
The ancient Chinese believed that human sexuality was analogous to 'cosmic' procreation. They saw absolutely no difference between rain wetting a field and semen fertilizing the womb of a woman, or between a damp soil ready for sowing seed and a moist vagina ready for penetration. Their sexuality was never tainted by morality (guilt) and could never be a sin.
The ancient Chinese palette went from the most detailed biological pictures of copulation to the most spiritual experiences of love.
However, there were important differences between confucianism, taoism and tantrism. The most conformist way of life was confucianism, which believed in biological immortality through offspring. Marriage was an important institution, but not an occasion for rejoicing. Music was prohibited for three days, because it was considered as a signal for the father that his son would soon take his place! Taoists believed in physical immortality and tried to prolong life through different techniques: respiration (mastering the uterine respiration of the embryo), diets, gymnastics or heliotherapy imposing a harsh body regimen for its adepts. A taoist 'alchemist' sect considered the woman's womb as a kind of chemist's cup capable of fabricating 'Life's Elixir' through copulation. Certain sects organized mass copulations trying to put their followers in a mystical delirium and making them believe that they were invulnerable and invincible in combat. Powerful men used them in this sense for political goals.
Tantrism was a more difficult practice. Sexual intercourse had to take place when a woman was most fertile, but the man had to withhold ejaculation (coitus reservatus) in order to capture the yin of the woman and heighten his own vital powers.
Robert van Gulik (author of excellent 'Chinese' detective novels) treats this particularly difficult theme masterly. He wrote a most stimulating book, not only for Chinese scholars.