Only about 20% of the Kama Sutra (all confined to one section out of seven) discusses sexual positions. The remainder offers guidance on how to be a good citizen, provides insights into relationships between men and women, and gives tips on a wide range of activities such as: Tattooing; The art of making beds; Playing on musical glasses filled with water; Making lemonades; Solving word puzzles; Knowledge of mines and quarries; The art of cock fighting and the art of teaching parrots and starlings to speak. Nine pages are devoted to the care of wives, but there are 26 pages on how to seduce other men’s wives.
The original book was not illustrated and was a compilation of earlier works. The author was a celibate Indian sage called Vatsyayana who lived sometime between the 1st and 6th Century. Sometimes a moral tone distances the book from what is being described. For example, oral sex is denounced as immoral before detailed instructions are laid out on how to perform it.
Nothing tends to increase love so much as the effects of marking with the nails, and biting.
The Kama Sutra says that if a man wishes to appear attractive, he should wear a peacock's bone covered in gold.
The Kama Sutra is one of the most stolen books from UK libraries.
For many centuries, the Kama Sutra languished in obscurity until Sir Richard Burton travelled to India, came across the text, collaborated with a Sanskrit reader to translate it and got it published in English in 1883. His tomb in Mortlake is shaped like a Bedouin tent as he was afraid of the dark.
Burton was an explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat and spoke 29 languages. He liked to experiment with hypnotism. He believed that he had what he called a 'gipsy soul', and that under hypnosis he could read people's minds. He also claimed that he could hypnotize people at a distance - unless, of course, there was a stretch of water in between him and his target, in which case the water might absorb the magnetic rays as they sped towards his subject. He used to mesmerize his wife, Isabel Arundell, and ask her about the future. ‘Apparently’, she foretold their cook's murder along with various other events, all of which promptly came to pass.
The Kama Sutra is the only surviving text from 3rd Century India.
The phrase ‘missionary position’ comes from a mistake by sexologist Alfred Kinsey. He misread a work by Polish-born British anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski whose only mention of a 'missionary position' was when he saw an engaged couple from the Triobrand Islands holding hands and leaning against each other, which the locals described as misinari si bubunela — the 'missionary fashion'. Malinowski did discuss man-on-top sex, in his report, but he said it was brought by 'white traders, planters, or officials'. It seems like Kinsey mistakenly conflated the two. Before Kinsey's mistaken coinage, it was most commonly called the 'English-American' position.
When Kinsey published his books on sexual behaviour in the human male and in the human female, other Kinseys all over the USA took out adverts to stress that they were not related to him. His most famous work was the ‘Kinsey Report’ which, amongst other things, supposedly showed that 17 per cent of farmhands in Indiana were having sex with the cows. The work has since been discredited, though, not least because, according to The Lancet: 'Kinsey questioned an unrepresentative proportion of prison inmates and sex offenders in a survey of normal sexual behavior.'
Sex is an emotion in motion.
The Kama Sutra provides advice on tongue-twisters and cockfighting.
To bleat with sexual desire.
Your hair grows more quickly when you’re anticipating sex.
In 1930, a radium-infused jockstrap called the Scrotal Radiendocrinator went on the market, claiming to boost sexual virility.