Ever since the Kama Sutra was first translated into English in 1880’s, it has perhaps been India’s greatest literary export to the world. And it has been re-interpreted time and again. The original text was written in the 3rd BC by Vatsyayan. The Kama Sutra is an ancient literature, a part of which consists of practical advice on sexual intercourse. It is largely in prose, with many poetry verses. Kama means sensual or sexual pleasure and Sutra means a thread or line that holds or binds things together. Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama Sutra is not just an exclusive sexual manual; it presents as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life.
Although Kama Sutra did not originally have illustrative images, part two of the work describes different sex positions. Recently the award-winning illustrator, Marcos Chin was commissioned to illustrate Kama Sutra: A guide to the art of pleasure, the critically acclaimed translation of the original Sanskrit classic by former diplomat Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel Haksar, Chin decided to make his version more striking and interesting for new readers.
The New York based illustrator Marcos Chin put life into soon-to-be release edition. Though the original text had no illustration, the future generations of Kama Sutra have needed drawings to better illustrate the art of making love leading to pleasure for the participants.
Previous illustrations have depicted the subjects – often unnamed kings and queens rather than common human beings or in the intricate carvings like that of Kajuraho temple. ‘Haksar’s translation was incredibly poetic and it conjured up so many visuals and metaphors that I knew upon finishing the book that I wanted to use the animals, plants, earth and nature as visual tools to communicate about sex and sexuality.
The illustration called Bituig will appear in the to-be-released English translation – ‘I love drawing the human figure, but I wanted to find new way to re-imagine it. I thought if I distilled parts of the body as graphic shapes, it might have more interesting effect. The Kama Sutra describes one of the kissing spots as being on the thigh, I thought this was incredibly erotic and chose this for my illustration.’ says Chin.
‘One such illustration is about the best spots to kiss. The Kama Sutra lists places such as hair cheeks and eyes that pertain to a woman’s body. To me, this suggested that the woman was the recipient, ‘ he says. The 50 drawings he has made for the book, took him 77 months to create. It has certainly added more interest, value and latest touch to this valuable old subject.
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