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Sex, Poison or Enlightenment
For a long time, sex-related toics had been considered secret and dirty by some Chinese people. But as ancient sex artifacts were presented to the public, people learned that China has a long history of erotic art.

Dubbed " China's first such exhibition in 5,000 years," this exhibition was brought to Shenzhen by Liu Dalin, an author and sexologist who founded the country's first sex museum in Shanghai in 1999. he brought 350 sex relics to Shenzhen, which is the 18th city he's visited in a nationwide tour. Before that, such exhibitions were made in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and other cities.

It is not pornography. "This is art, culture and knowledge,"said Liu.

Throughout the exhibition, texts extol the spirituality of sex. Statues of "sensual Buddha" sho goddesses mounting Buddha sitting in meditation. "Buddhist Tantrism advocates men and women's 'double meditation' and the idea of 'using desires as an antidote for desires,'" says one of the exhibit's descriptions.

" I was surprised and had a new knowledge on Buddha who was thought of as pure and far from sex," said Ma Qi, a painter.

One of an old couple, in 60s, said: " I was curious as to how ancient youths were taught of sex, because in our 20s, sex was a forbidden topic. We didn't have any source to know about ir."

"Here I found that ancient people had their special way of passing on the facts of life." SaidHuang Furen, the husband.

According to a 17th-century tradition, mothers would give their newly-wed daughters a "trunk bottom" that appeared to be a mere strawberry box.

But when the bride opened it up, it was a couple demonstrating foreplay.

Visitors to the exhibition learned that in the Tang Dynasty, from the 6th to the 9th century, divorce was common ---23 princesses were divorced durinng that time --- and divorced women were not discriminated against. Youths could love freely.

While speaking highly of the exhibition, most visitors said it's hard to find the location. Sitting on the third floor of the Global Delicacies Supermarket at the crowded Dongmen pedestrian precinct, the exhibition was told by authorities not to post any asvertisements.

This was not the first setback for for Liu Dalin. He had brought a Shanghai governmental office to court in a bid to win the right to promote his collection. In the year of 2000, he sued Nanjing road Pedestrian Mall Management

Office for breaking the law by not allowing him to put the word "sex" on the outdoor billboard of Shanghai"s Ancient Chinese Sex Culture Museum.

Liu said he didn't expect a return to the Tang-Dynasty openness overnight. " But I think it will change gradually. In a long process, China will be strong and sexual life will become more free."

Born in 1932 in Shanghai, Liu studied journalism in Beijing in 1949, and then a year and a half later became a soldier for 20 years. After returning to shanghai to work in a factory for 12 years, he began studying sociology at Shanghai University School of Art, focusing on family and marriage. "That's when I began to pay attention to the research of sexual life," he said.

He conducted a small survey in the early 1980s that led him to conclude that an unhappy sex life causes about one-third of all divorces.

While conducting china's first nationwide sex survey of 20,000 people in the early 1990s, he began collecting antiques. Finally, in 1999, he moved the show to the public, and popular, Nanjing Road.

According to Liu, the young people today are very open, but they don't understand the value of sex that is more than physical intercourse.

" We must enducate them to assume responsible, serious attitudes toward sex," said the sexologist. " If high-school students were allowed to visit the exhibition, I bet they would have more decent idea of sex that they do not get from seeing porn pictures on the Internet.

The exhibition will last for two months and its address:

3/F, global Delicacies Supermarket, Pedestrians' Dongmen Street , Luohu District, Shenzhen.

(Southcn.com January 15, 2003)

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