Ancient Pervy Japanese Porn. I mean, Art. (Shunga)

Via on Aug 28, 2009

shunga

Bonus: Here is a link to an informative Shunga lecture.

“Does Japanese Shunga turn porn into art? …A British Museum exhibition raises important questions about the juncture between art and free speech, some of which are unique to our digital age….” ..read the rest here.

The Japanese are elegant. Simple. Always have been.

They’re also enthusiastically pervy, as anyone who’s had the (mis)fortune to see their modern cartoons or hear about their dirty schoolgirl underwear vending machines knows all too well.

Shunga, or traditional woodblock art, combines the two—it’s the often stunning, sometimes grotesque, always intimate, occasionally homosexual, somehow-exciting-though-it’s-ancient-and-wildly-foreign art of love.

Shunga (春画?) is a Japanese term for erotic art. Most shunga are a type of ukiyo-e, usually executed inwoodblock print format. While rare, there are extant erotic painted handscrolls which predate the Ukiyo-e movement.[1] Translated literally, the Japanese word shunga means picture of spring; “spring” is a common euphemism for sex.

The ukiyo-e movement as a whole sought to express an idealisation of contemporary urban life and appeal to the new chōnin class. Following the aesthetics of everyday life, Edo period shunga varied widely in its depictions of sexuality. As a subset of ukiyo-e it was enjoyed by all social groups in the Edo period, despite being out of favour with the shogunate. Almost all ukiyo-e artists made shunga at some point in their careers, and it did not detract from their prestige as artists.[1] Classifying shunga as a kind of medieval pornography can be misleading in this respect.[2] For the rest, head on over to Wikipedia.

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20 Responses to “Ancient Pervy Japanese Porn. I mean, Art. (Shunga)”

  1. mary fitzsimons says:

    no problem with pubic hair in japan i see.

  2. Jason Gan says:

    This is much of the inspiration for Art Nouveau (a.k.a. Jugendstil in German). The Japanese form and use of gigantic phallus in art is especially copied by Aubrey Beardsley to create a fashion statement in the 1890s. I can see now that his original inspiration was porn.

  3. Chrystos says:

    6899 views, wow. Maybe I'm writing the wrong kinds of articles. I'd be interested to know what percentage of the views are male vs female. Impossible to ascertain, of course. Also, I notice that in one, the man is still wearing his sword. I wonder why they did that.

  4. [...] These presumably on-a-whim submissions will be published in a special section, exclusively set aside under the heading, “The Elephant In The Room.” It has been indicated to us that these will likely be constituted primarily by the lude poll questions and soft-core nudity from the Asian sub-continent which are in accordance with Waylon’s standard contributions. [...]

  5. whit says:

    I'm female and I read it. lol.

  6. Tama says:

    Pubic hair was okay in ancient Japan but not current.

    I have read that the artworks showing kissing were the most provocative, as kissing is considered an incredibly private and passionate act.

    I'm a woman and enjoy erotica. Lots of us do, even if we don't say so outright.

  7. Free vcc says:

    I searched Google for "ancient erotic" and found this site. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting
    for your further post thank you once again.

  9. lisab says:

    Has anyone ever thought about why people really enjoy erotica or even porn (which can be two very different things) beyond the "it's fun" bit? Does anyone really stop to think about why they do things anymore? Should we consider how completely twisted it is to sell "schoolgirl underpants" from a vending machine? This is basically a vending machine full of masturbation devices that men can purchase with a few yen. Isn't that some form of pedophilia or at the very least promoting it? Do you think Japanese men buy them for the same reason so many Americans eat McDonald's? Why do you suppose people shrug their shoulders at other people's kinks these day? Why do people have kinks at all? These are questions that should be pondered, I think. And the potential answers could be quite telling and perhaps even extremely pertinent to the trajectory of the human race.

    • occultfan says:

      Sure. Lots of things to think about here. And fairly much, a lot of it is neutral to the critical mind. If you 'really' want truth, you'll have to eschew your own personal convictions about what is goo,d helpful, harmful, or bad. The truth might be so glaringly scary that you'll wish you'd never pursued it's resonance. Yet, if you do, be prepared for what you find, and be prepared in the sense of maintaining your own self-worth, your own right to be loved and valued, and your own ability to make changes despite seeming circumstance and zeitgeist norms. And be careful of making claims about other cultures as if they were a homogenous entity by which are worthy of being judged unilaterally. The human condition trumps national identity every moment of every day, yesterday, now, and onwards.

      • lisab says:

        Okay. Thanks for the "advice" but I find your response pretentious and assumptive.

        "you'll have to eschew your own personal convictions about what is good helpful, harmful, or bad"

        Neutral to the critical mind? I don't think so. Some things are not debatable no matter how much we want to spin them in different directions. While I am in no position to judge people by how they deal with their personal brand of human bullshit, that doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to the suffering it may cause.

        "Yet, if you do, be prepared for what you find…"

        You're presuming I've never shifted paradigms before or that I'm some fledgling to spiritual development who's never had a critical though before.

        "And be careful of making claims about other cultures…"

        I asked questions that should be pondered. Exploiting children or encouraging such behavior is one of those not debatable topics.

  10. booklady63 says:

    Okay, the octopus is a new one for me…

  11. Chelseainwriting says:

    Yeah, I did start to feel a little pervy. Must have been what I was looking for. Thanks, as always, for scratching an itch W.

  12. karen katz says:

    erotic, sweet, a little perverted-loved it!….thanks

  13. Cheri Elizabeth says:

    At the risk of sounding unenlightened and all that jazz….the second to last one looks like she's giving birth to a xenomorph. Well done, Japan.

  14. Laura says:

    I'm curious about the gay pix. Are those transvestites (check out the lack of haircut)? Prostitutes? Were they always tolerant of such stuff?

    The octopus was weird.

  15. creativelittlecarrie says:

    They were gay rights before is was cool.

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