In China, mandarin ducks, said to mate for life, symbolize wedded bliss, and tiny red shoes are viewed as sexually arousing. In Japan, black hair once alluded covertly to passion and in the 20th century is explicitly erotic. Love is divine in India, enduring in temple sculpture in the form of rapturous couples, the territory of gods as well as mortals.Rich, wildly varied imagery infuses the art and literature of love in Asia. The universal themes of love denied, love fulfilled, of courtship, passion, and fertility are here treated in lively, color-illustrated essays by five distinguished contributors. Early Chinese art alluding to the theme of romance is explored along with the 13th-century tale, The Story of the Western Wing. Also examined are the Japanese One Hundred Poets, a luxury volume of poems assembled in the 17th century, and modern poetry by such writers as Takamura Kotaro. Stunning Rajput painting and poetry, the fascinating role of the sakhi, or messenger, in love-intrigues, and the dynamic temple sculpture at Khajuraho are featured in engrossing chapters about India. Whether depicting the theme of love as explicit embrace or entwined plum tree branches, Asian artists offer, in these compelling works of art and literature, continuing avenues of inspiration, sustenance, and delight.
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