This illustration is from Su E Pian (or Su Wo Pien), a four-volume work of Chinese erotica, ca. 1640, from the Ming Dynasty. The Institute's copy [KICAT 711 A13], donated in 1948, is the most complete known to exist.
Su E Pian tells the story of Master Wu Shan Si, an historical figure of the Tang Dynasty, and his beautiful concubine, Su E (translated as Lady of the Moon), who captivates Wu completely. Various natural settings inspire the couple to engage in sexual intercourse using different positions. To each, Su E gives a poetic name, one of which is Flowers Longing for Butterflies. The positions are illustrated with wood engravings and accompanied by verse following the style of traditional Chinese poem writing. The work reflects Taoism's emphasis on returning to nature and on the harmony that should exist between nature and humankind.
The authorship of the book is attributed to the Immortal Square Pot. "Pot," in Chinese Taoist terms, symbolizes a mixture of Ying and Yang, or a small universe, and was a favorite symbol of the Taoists. The engraver, Huang Yi Kai, was well-known for his artistic accomplishments. His style of woodcutting was minute and exquisite.
Su E Pian has more than 10,000 Chinese characters, 90 illustrations, and 43 chapters, in a set of four volumes, with white cotton paper and white fringe. The frame is 20.8 cm in height and 14.1 cm in width.
For more information, see the following article by The Kinsey Institute
Library's Head of Technical Services:
Zhou, Lianhong (Liana). Su E Pian: A Unique Treasure at The Kinsey Institute Library. Journal of Library and Information Science 21(2), October 1995, pp. 1-9.The Journal of Library and Information Science is published by Taiwan Normal University, Republic of China, and the Chinese American Librarians Asssociation, USA.
© 1996-, Kinsey Institute / Indiana University