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NSFW! Vintage Indian Erotica

For the past few years, sex and India has been in the news, mostly in a negative light – highlighting a rape culture and gender disparity that’s rearing its head on a global scale. It’s ironic, considering the restrictive and puritanical attitudes towards sex and their consequences on women in modern-day India, that pre-colonial India was relatively open when it came to sex.

Sex and nudity feature prominently in temple sculptures, especially in South India, and in Indian literature; the most well-known literature about sex practices in human history is the Vatsyayana Kamasutram, better known as the Kama Sutra, written somewhere between 400 BCE and 200 CE. Up until the invasion of India by several uptight European nations, most notably the British, sex for pleasure was perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, in Indian life – albeit in the marriage bed.

As the grip of Victorian England tightened on Indian culture, the Hindu attitude towards sex became increasingly seen as “barbaric” and inferior to the tight-assed (no pun intended) English attitudes towards sex, which were basically that masturbation caused serious health issues, sex should be restricted to reproduction purposes, and enjoying sex in any way was shameful, especially for women. This unfortunate way of thinking was imposed on Indian culture and eroded their attitudes toward one of life’s few pleasures. As a result, Victorian ideals became the norm in India, and conservative sex values are still the norm today.

The following paintings were done in 19th century India, and while they are typical of earlier artworks about sex, you can see the puritanical influence creeping in in the form of demons and devils participating in the sex acts. I can’t read these, nor can I find information about the artist/author of these works, but it seems that an association is being made between homosexuality, bestiality, masturbation, and evil in the form of demons. Either way, these are some pretty awesome and twisted paintings…enjoy!

A_devil_buggering_a_man._Gouache_painting_by_an_Indian_Wellcome_L0033071
L0033073 Two women embracing and using carrots as dildoes. Gouache Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Two women embracing and using carrots as dildoes. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Two women embracing and using carrots as dildos. 

L0033075 A giant penis copulating with a female devil. Gouache Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A giant penis copulating with a female devil. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A giant penis copulating with a female devil. 

L0033076 A man copulating with a goat or deer. Gouache painting by Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A man copulating with a goat or deer. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
A man copulating with a goat or deer.
L0033077 A female devil copulating with a giant penis. Gouache Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A female demon copulating with a giant penis. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
A female devil copulating with a giant penis.
L0033078 A woman riding on an enormous winged penis. Gouache Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A woman riding on an enormous penis. Gouache 19th centruy Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
A woman riding on an enormous winged penis.
L0033079 A woman using a dildo in the form of a root vegetable Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A woman using a dildo in the form of a root vegetable suspended from the branch of a tree. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A woman using a dildo in the form of a root vegetable 

L0033080 A crocodile controlled by a female devil to give her sexual Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A crocodile controlled by a female devil to give her sexual pleasure by applying its mouth to her vagina. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A crocodile controlled by a female devil to give her sexual pleasure 

L0033081 A man ejaculating, while holding a net for birds. Gouache Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A man ejaculating while holding a net for birds. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
A man ejaculating, while holding a net for birds.
L0033082 A woman caresses another woman who uses a root vegetable as Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A woman caresses another woman who uses a root vegetable as a dildo. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A woman caresses another woman who uses a root vegetable as a dildo 

L0033083 An antelope (?) whose body is formed by three pairs of Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org An antelope whose body is formed by three pairs of copulating humans. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
An antelope whose body is formed by three pairs of copulating humans.
L0033084 A man copulating with a model of a woman and models of Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A man copulating with a model of a woman and model of penises mounted on a board. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A man copulating with a model of a woman and model of penises mounted on a board. 

L0033085 A camel whose body is composed of copulating humans. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A camel whose body is composed of copulating humans. Gouache 19th century Published: [18--?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A camel whose body is composed of copulating humans. 

All images copyright: Wellcome Library, London

Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sex_in_India
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/sex-and-sexuality-19th-century/

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Vpress Kgd

    September 7, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    The article proves that the author is from woods. The author is blind about India and its heritage and especially about sex and Indian literature. Very much irresponsible.

  2. Lhavanya DL

    July 31, 2015 at 12:36 am

    The author really needs to brush up on her culture. The people depicted are mughals, who are muslims. The term hindu shouldn’t even be mentioned in this post (not that I’m implying we’re any less or more sexual or whatever it is) but culture man culture! Don’t mix it up. Facepalm.

  3. normality

    May 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Great article but I think India still had some restrictive ideas about sex, or it wouldn’t have been part of the taboo breaking puja circle that certain tantrics used in conjunction with eating meat and certain grains, drinking booze, and other taboos. There is a whole other vast discussion to be had about tantra as we understand in the west and its invention by British colonials and enterprising Indians from assorted bits of old books and practices.

    Loved the article though, Indian erotic art is always a treat.

  4. random

    May 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

    That’s not sanskrit. It’s a persian/urdu script. The headgears worn by the men are the headgears worn by mughal emperors. Get your facts straight.

  5. Jared Birden

    May 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Katie Marple

  6. Ann Brittney

    May 9, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Yes! This is so weird.lol

  7. Furryha

    May 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

    This is so interesting. I think the writing is in Farsi or Urdu though, not Sanksrit 🙂

  8. Maryrose Runk

    May 8, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Tasha

  9. Lillith

    May 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    It’s in Arabic. Not Sanskrit. Some are written in Farsi too.

  10. JessJess Miller

    May 8, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Michael Loopmaster Magee

  11. Alex Yanish

    May 8, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Henri Dumas

  12. faelight

    May 8, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    These are most likely contemporary paintings done on 19th century manuscripts, such as you can find “under the counter” at shops across north India today. The script we see here is Arabic script, so the language is Urdu, not Sanskrit. The fact that they are contemporary paintings in no way decreases their value, but it is important to get the details straight and not fall into the all-too-common Western trap of juxtaposing an “idealized” past against the present.

  13. Raymond Steentjes

    May 8, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Awkward

  14. Fadi Salti

    May 8, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Jayadev Vijayan

  15. Kayla Blackey

    May 8, 2015 at 10:38 am

    This would make great art pieces for my bathroom ;D

  16. Steve Goossens

    May 8, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I saw some of these at a gallery/museum down in London… There’s a brilliant one of a flying penis and vagina above a lake… I think Claire might have a photo of it

  17. Jeff Monge

    May 8, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Kassandra check this out

  18. Rick Young

    May 8, 2015 at 6:23 am

    A) fuck that guy^^^ and B) during the Mughal period most of the Indian subcontinent was under Islamic rule.

  19. Kyle Markham

    May 8, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Of course cvlt nation are all about Towel heads

  20. Arijit Sarkar

    May 8, 2015 at 4:59 am

    It’s Arabic …. not Sanskrit

  21. John Haverkamp

    May 8, 2015 at 4:05 am

    Those are some interesting images. The “journalist’s” article is pure crap and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The images are very clearly Mughal Empire by the Islamic script thus not Hindo. The whole demonisation of sex and that rape culture comes from Victorian European infection thesis she puts out their is one of the most ignorant things i’ve ever read. As if the complexities and historicity of sexual politics for an entire sub-continent and entire ancient multi-ethnic, multi-religious civilization can be deduced from the pornography of some decadent elites (the Mughals) that took over from central asia in the 16th century.

  22. Nicholas Whitehorse

    May 8, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Some of these are at the world erotic museum on Miami Beach.. A must go if you’re down here

  23. Ayahna Kumarroy

    May 8, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Why is the text in Arabic? (obviously Islam is in India. I’m just curious if there’s any more info …)

    • نيغا بليز

      May 8, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Islam is religious cult. Arabic is a language. I doubt these were done during the Islamic era. Some of them were written in Farsi as well. The scripts have nothing to do with the illustrations. It talks about something completely different.

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