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News Alphabetical Index of Topics

Home HISTORY OF SEX
Activism & Sex
Arts & Sensuality TIME LINE ANCIENT CHINA
Commercial Sex Mesopotamia
Contraception Ancient Egypt Early Chinese Literature - 1500 BC to 770 BC
Disabilities/Illnesses Ancient India
Dysfunctions Ancient China In early Chinese literature, sexual acts had metaphorical
Human Body Early Biblical imagery. "Clouds" in literature referred to a woman's
History of Sex Early Mediterranean ova and vaginal secretions. "Rain" referred to a man's
Law & Sex Ancient Greece emission of semen.
Love & Intimacy Incan Empire
Paraphilias Aztec Empire Chou Dynasty - 770 BC to 222 BC
Pleasures of Sex Mayan Empire
Pregnancy Native Americans The Chou dynasty had a Taoist doctrine although Taoism
Relationships Roman Empire itself was not a formal religion yet. They divided
Religion & Sex Middle Ages men and women into the yin and the yang. Women
Research Renaissance/Reformation were said to have an unexhaustable supply of yin
STDs Puritans essence. While men had a limited supply of yang.
Societies Victorianism It was forbidden for men to use up their yang essence
Variances Adolf Hitler without acquiring plenty of yin essence. That meant
Violence Kinsey - 1950s that before a man was allowed to ejaculate, he had to
Sex Revolution-60s prolong it, making a woman orgasm several times to
acquire her yin essence. If a man ejaculated or used
up his yang essence without taking any yin essence
it was said to cause him health problems and even death.

Masturbation by men was seen as unhealthy and forbidden, for it was said to cause a complete loss of his
vital yang essence. Women could masturbate freely as they were said to have an unlimited yin. Medical texts only
warned women against masturbation with foreign objects which were believed to injure the womb and
internal sexual organs. Nocturnal emissions or 'wet dreams' that men had were seen as a health problem for men.

During this time, female homosexuality was widespread, but male homosexuality was rare. Male homosexuality was
forbidden because it was considered a complete loss of yang essence on the part of both men. Meanwhile, since
women were said to have an unlimited yin essence, there was no loss of yin in female homosexual relations.
Not until the Han dynasty did male homosexuality figures reach the same standard as among other societies.

At first, prostitution was accepted by the Chinese. Men thought that they could gain more yin from prostitutes
than from normal women. They believed that since such women had sex with so many men, that they had acquired more
yang essence from them, thus, they could give a patron more yang essence than he had lost. However, Chinese
medicine began to identify prostitutes with many diseases at an early stage in human history and they began
warning men against them.

Ch'in Dynasty - 221 BC to 24 AD

The Ch'in Dynasty shifted the Taoist culture to a Confucianist culture, which was completely different.
Women were placed in an inferior position to men. All physical contact between men and women was confined
to marriage and their bedroom or a couch. After leaving the bedroom or couch, there was to be no physical
contact between husbands and wives. The sex act in itself was looked upon as a sort of sin by Confucianism.
Sex was only for procreation and to provide a sacred family life.

Men were allowed to see concubines and there was an entire set of Confucianist rules for concubines, such as
grooming rules. A man's concubine was not allowed to stay in bed after the sex act if his wife was not present
but the concubine had to leave. Even if the concubine was age 50, the man was supposed to have sex with his
concubine every five days. During this time period, there were many sadistic relationship among the Ch'in
dynasty families and many incestous relationships between close kin members of the dynasty.

Later Han Dynasty - 25 AD to 220 AD

With the Han Dynasty came the return of Taoist doctrines, only by this point in time, Taoism was now an
organized religion with its own church and priests. New sexual texts began to surface such as The Handbook
of the Plain Girl
and The Art of the Bedchamber. Both texts referred to a Yellow Emperor, who was attempting
to live a long, healthy life and obtain a form of immortality through sex. Emphasis was placed on breathing
techniques during sex to prolong a man's orgasm to make a woman orgasm several times to gain her yin essence.

New metaphors and symbolicism evolved in literature to show men and women and their sexuality. The color red
was female, a crucible, the ova, her cinnabar (vulva). The color white became symbolic of men and their semen.
The White Tiger was symbolic of men and the Green Dragon was symbolic of women.

Three Kingdoms & Six Dynasties - 221 AD to 590 AD

During this time frame there were many conflicts between different cultures and the ruling classes during the wars.
There was intermixing between Taoist doctrines, Confucian doctrines and Buddhist doctrines.

Sui Dynasty - 590 AD to 618 AD

Once again, China returned to the Taoist doctrines and new sexual literature and manuals began to flourish.
Such texts included the following:
The Secret Methods of the Plain Girl
Handbook of Sex of the Dark Girl
Recipes of the Plain Girl
Secret Prescriptions for the Bedchamber
Principles of Nurturing
Ishimpo
Secrets of the Jade Chamber


Many of the texts continue the sexual instruction to the Yellow Emperor, trying to tell him how to obtain a long,
immortal healthy life, by having many sexual relations with many women gaining their yin essence without expending
his yang essence, or prolonging his orgasms/ejaculation. All of the texts are very detailed and each has unique sets
of sexual positions with animal-like names for each individual sex position. Sex was seen as a cure-all for every
health ailment that a man had, and different sexual positions were given as prescriptions to cure these ailments.

For Further Readings on Sex in Ancient China:

Dikotter, Frank. (1995) Sex, Culture, and Modernity in China. London: Hurst & Company.
Golden, Paul. (2002) Culture of Sex in Ancient China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Maynes, Mary Jo. (1996) Gender, Kinship, Power: A Comparative & Interdisciplinary History. New York: Routledge.
Ruan, Fangfu. (1991) Sex in China. New York: Plenum Press.
Van Gulik, Robert. (1961) Sexual Life in Ancient China. Netherlands: E. J. Brill.
Wile, Douglas. (1992) Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics Including Women's Solo Meditation. New York: State University of New York Press.

Ancient China Links

Ancient Bronze Dildos Unearthed in China
Ancient China to Modern Times
Art of the Orient
Books on Oriental Sex, Pleasures and Charm
China's Ancient Sex Culture on Display
Chinese Health Institute
Classic Chinese Erotic Literature
Culture of Sex in Ancient China
Daily Life in Ancient China
Exploring Ancient World Cultures
Images of Taoism
Sinophilia
Taoism - Breathing
Taoist Mission: Singapore

See Also: Religion & Sex: Taoism
See Also: Religion & Sex: Confucianism


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Last updated 12.7.2014