India’s Ancient Erotic Sculpture

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I’m still in India, now in coastal Orissa state.

Today we went to a world-famous 1,000-year-old Hindu temple. It was enormous, gorgeous, spectacular. Every inch of the stone exterior was carved with scenes from local and palace life from 10 centuries ago.

And so today’s visitor sees wonderfully-preserved scenes of battles, animals, musicians, families…and sex. Lots of sex, in just about every position. Same-gender sex, threesomes, group sex, oral sex–you get the picture.

Well, perhaps not. Here, sitting in a park, is this display of explicit erotic behavior bigger than the Lincoln Memorial. And people from across the country come to see it–many, of course, with their families.

And this isn’t the only temple like it. We saw a different, smaller version a few days ago in Chhattisgarh. You celebrate life, you celebrate sex–that’s the way it was here a thousand years ago.

It’s not like that here anymore, of course. Sexually, India is quite conservative on the usual measures, such as contraception, sex ed, and pornography (legally, you can’t even show pubic hair). Even modern women here dress modestly, and while TV and videos do feature a sly, sexy tease, you certainly won’t find the bare breasts of German TV or the coarse sexual lyrics of American music videos.

Where India does differ from the U.S. is in allowing–actually encouraging–public access to monuments like this across the country. At one site we even ran into a gaggle of soldiers on leave, praying in a still-active temple that depicted fellatio and other sexual delights carved on its outer walls. Ironically, many of them had probably never seen an actual, fully-nude woman in their own bed.

Honorable mention goes to the Victorian-era Brits. Thanks for not destroying the temples depicting erotic themes onto which you stumbled 100 years ago, despite your disapproval of them. The Taliban, the Vatican, and Morality In Media should take note.

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