In watching the British comedy panel show “QI” series K episode 11, subject: Kinky, the Kama Sutra was mentioned. I realized, oddly enough, that I had never read this famous piece of literature (in which only 20% is devoted to sex, it also teaches you about birds and other random things). So, I’m looking at it now. Thank goodness for the internet, I suppose.
So, the Kama Sutra is an interesting thing. But, the reason why I’m posting anything about it is this:
Chapter III: On Kissing understandably talks about kissing. It lists different times to kiss, different places to kiss, the names of different types of kissing. And it talks about the competition that is kissing.
As regards kissing, a wager may be laid as to which will get hold of the lips of the other first. If the woman loses, she should pretend to cry, should keep her lover off by shaking her hands, and turn away from him and dispute with him saying, ‘let another wager be laid’. If she loses this a second time, she should appear doubly distressed, and when her lover is off his guard or asleep, she should get hold of his lower lip, and hold it in her teeth, so that it should not slip away, and then she should laugh, make a loud noise, deride him, dance about, and say whatever she likes in a joking way, moving her eyebrows and rolling her eyes. Such are the wagers and quarrels as far as kissing is concerned, but the same may be applied with regard to the pressing or scratching with the nails and fingers, biting and striking. All these however are only peculiar to men and women of intense passion.
Just thinking of my own personal romantic life (which, to be honest, isn’t much of one, but let’s pretend, shall we?) if someone started jumping around making loud noises and rolling their eyes after kissing me, having cried earlier … I think I would consider checking them into an institution of some sort. Or at least suggest a medication or two.
When a woman looks at the face of her lover while he is asleep and kisses it to show her intention or desire, it is called a ‘kiss that kindles love’.
— I find to be rather beautiful.
Whereas this —
When a lover coming home late at night kisses his beloved, who is asleep on her bed, in order to show her his desire, it is called a ‘kiss that awakens’. On such an occasion the woman may pretend to be asleep at the time of her lover’s arrival, so that she may know his intention and obtain respect from him.
— I don’t understand. He respects her because she ignores him?
All of these explanations and examples were so, or are so fantastic. Fantastically nutty, fantastically wonderful.
When a person kisses the reflection of the person he loves in a mirror, in water, or on a wall, it is called a ‘kiss showing the intention’.
I’ve never heard of a tradition of kissing the watery reflection of someone you love, but as it apparently exists I must say that it is wonderful. I have a personal fondness of images — Japanese, I think, — of men pressing their lips to a lock of a woman’s hair. Simple and beautiful, and evocative. As is the image of water.
This, however, is quite complicated:
When at night at a theatre, or in an assembly of caste men, a man coming up to a woman kisses a finger of her hand if she be standing, or a toe of her foot if she be sitting, or when a woman is shampooing her lover’s body, places her face on his thigh (as if she was sleepy) so as to inflame his passion, and kisses his thigh or great toe, it is called a ‘demonstrative kiss’.
I think I understand what the passage is getting at, and I can see how, in the doing, it would appear sexy. But, um, reading it in this language feels rather wrong. Forced, maybe. Not clinical, but too instructive for beauty.
Chapter III: On Kissing ends with this statement:
‘Whatever things may be done by one of the lovers to the other, the same should be returned by the other, i.e. if the woman kisses him he should kiss her in return, if she strikes him he should also strike her in return.’
It reads like equality, at least.