Garden Publishing - Kenneth
thirteenth-century India on the temple walls of Konarak,
we easily see life-size stone carvings revealing women
and men in almost every conceivable sexual embrace.
From the Ishimpo (ee shem poh), a thousand-year-old Japanese medical text,
we are instructed in a healing sexual position named the Wild Horse Leaps, where
feet are lifted toward the heavens and the jade stalk is inserted deeply into
the jade gate.
From the biblical Song of Songs, we glean a hint of the pleasures of oral-vaginal
sexa thousand years before Christianity: I am my beloveds,
and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
From the early sixteenth-century North African Arabic world, we read The Perfumed
Garden: Let praise be given to God that He has created woman with
her beauty and appetizing flesh: that He has endowed her with hair, waist,
and throat, breasts that swell, and amorous gestures which increase desire.
. . . God has granted us the kiss on the mouth, the cheeks and the mouth,
as also the sucking of luscious lips, to provoke an erection at a favorable
To many other peoples of many other times, the intertwining of sin and sex would
appear strange, perhaps incomprehensible. To pronounce sex as forbidden
fruit might even be heresy.
Sex is primordial. Sexual energy is sacred. Sexual pleasure is healing and transformative.
These conceptions were inherent in the worldview of many ancients who tasted
of the tree of knowledge and learned that the fruit should never be forbidden.
The original Kama Sutra was written by a holy man in India almost two millennia
ago. Today in the West, Kama Sutra has often come to be interpreted
as a bible of sex. It is in this sense that I chose the title Kama Sutra
of Sexual Positions as an introduction to ancient lovers of many different
cultures where the sexual and the sacred were the weaver of the tapestry
Most of the images herein are based on paintings or written descriptions from
India, China, and Japan. Some of the methods go back to very early writings.
Some come to us from the probably mythical Chinese Yellow Emperor and his
three wise-woman sexual mentors of some 5,000 years ago. In all likelihood,
most of the sexual methods here antedate recorded history, for our sexuality
While much of the available ancient lover material often assumes a male reader
and a male being the directing partner, the underlying tone is usually
far more egalitarian, sensual, and empathetic than much of the sexually
explicit material generated in the West in recent centuries.
A complete set of sexual positions is far from the goal here. This is a fun book
to contemplate possibilities from ancient lovers, human beings who came
before us, and who sought and discovered the sweet beauty of the fruit.
Some of the illustrations are based on photographs of modern lovers interpreting
the writings and paintings from ancient lovers. Several of the people in
these images are quite accomplished in yoga, as can be seen in the flexibility
required in some of the positions. Most of the lovers are experienced in
different forms of meditation, as seen in their eye connections.
The largest set of illustrations presents a wide variety of positions by ancient
lovers. These are intended to simply convey the sexual embrace itself with
a hint of the garments, accessories, and environment of some ancient cultures.
Another set of illustrations comes from sensual sculptures on temple walls in
India. While an embarrassment to some contemporary puritanical Indians,
these sculptures are among the finest erotic art in the world.
Finally, the classic Japanese erotic art style known as shunga gives us a refreshingly
different view of sexual embrace.
While coming to us mostly from writings and art over many centuries and many
cultural milieus, all the illustrations here are by Kyle Spencer. Often
the positions included are the result of my instruction to her to have
fun with this project of 100 illustrations. I suggested she vary patterns
in garments, envision new settings, and basically follow her artistic heart.
Kama Sutra of Sexual Positions is a revised, all-color edition of my earlier
Secret Sexual Positions. I invited Richard Stodart, another artist, to
bring color to the original black-and-white illustrations and to compose
some of them as montages. I encouraged him to express his artistic vision
to celebrate the dynamic diversities of the sexual embrace.