1.2.05

Shunga

In these examples of Japanese shunga we see a great variety of lovemaking techniques, situations, positions and possibilities. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, the diversity of sexual behaviors expressed within this artform offer a glimpse of the sexual freedoms available in previous eras and cultures.
Erotic art has been produced in Japan, China, India and most Asian cultures for centuries. The tradition of the shunga painting began in the 7th or 8th century and the ukiyo-e woodblock print in the late 17th century. They reached their creative heights in the 18th century and then began to deteriorate in the late 19th century as more and more Western influence became apparent in Japanese government, law and ritual. By the beginning of the 20th century much of the production of shunga material was driven underground, while what was still produced was increasingly intended for a growing European audience. As Western printing techniques and materials (such as aniline dyes) were introduced to Japan in the 1850s, much of the delicacy of color and line was abandoned in favor of the comparatively bright colored and heavy lined art of the West.


Some of these scenes are infused with passion in a way unimaginable in Western art. The concentration on this pleasurable physical exercise is so intense that faces and limbs become contorted in ecstasy. Very often it seems that every object present in these scenes bristles with this sexual excitement. The bonsai trees take on the suggestion of the male’s stout penis, the silk robes repeat the curves and undulation of the female’s vagina.



shunga

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