Eroticism is very present in art. Thus, we find images of naked bodies and sexual practices in the frescoes of Pompeii, in the text of the Kama-Sutra of Hinduism or in the art of the Renaissance. Shunga
Shunga, the Japanese erotic art
In Japanese culture, the shunga is the traditional pictorial current where scenes with sexual content are presented. This tradition began in the 17th century, when an anonymous artist included in a sex manual some representations of intimate scenes.
In some periods of history, these representations were banned by the Japanese authorities, who considered this art as something obscene and dirty. Despite official censorship, the shunga style never completely disappeared.
In Japanese, the word literally means “spring image”, but the use of the term spring has a euphemistic meaning.
In traditional Japanese culture, having a shunga work indoors was a kind of talisman that served to prevent fires. On the other hand, the ancient samurai had the habit of keeping one of these erotic drawings, as they believed they would be lucky during combat.
These erotic drawings and paintings were virtually unknown to the western world. However, from the 19th century onwards, some European artists began to become interested in Japanese erotic impressions. Impressionist and modernist painters as well as collectors from all over the world took an interest in the shunga style and this new fashion was known as japonism.
Shunga art is a precedent for erotic anime and manga cartoons.
From an artistic point of view, these works have two main characteristics: the predominant use of the line according to the oriental taste and images of partial nudes in which the body is covered with transparent and colored fabrics. The use of fabrics to cover the body also has another meaning, as it allows us to identify the protagonists (there are dresses for merchants, courtesans and warriors).
The Shunga theme deals with sexuality naturally and conveys women’s search for pleasure, homosexuality and male impotence. At times, the sex scenes are fantastic and show samurai warriors with disproportionately sized penises or women copulating with animals. In short, this erotic art is a mixture of realism and fantasy. For some scholars, the sexual approach to the anime and manga world is the contemporary version of old Shunga engravings.