Shanghai Museum of Ancient Chinese Sex Culture


Travelers spending time in China soon realize there’s a secret China kept hidden from foreign eyes. Chinese friends become silent when a certain topic is mentioned, or dismiss it with a few words. One part of Chinese culture seldom discussed, even closely veiled is its sexual customs.

Every year thousands of curious foreign visitors travel to the canal city of Tongli, one of Shanghai’s satellite cities, to visit a museum that is completely unexpected in China; The Museum Of Ancient Chinese Sex Culture. Awed tourists wander about amidst a staggering 3,700 exhibits that are as much about cultural and sociological aspects of China’s history as the erotic habits of its people. To house this huge array of artifacts the museum takes up the entire floor of a city office building.

With the Victorian grandma attitude of the Communist Chinese Government, this museum is frowned upon by officials because of what it may represent to the visitor to Shanghai. The government still retains the death penalty for pornography. Nevertheless, the museum survived relocation from downtown Shanghai, and refusal of city officials to allow the curator of the museum, Liu Dalin, to use the word “sex” in his signs outside the museum. In fact, the museum’s popularity may be the reason for its survival.

The museum got my interest by receiving honorable mentions in Lonely Planet and Frommer’s Guidebooks for showing a unique side of China that gets no publicity. I decided to visit it and see what all the fuss was about and was not disappointed. The taxi driver drops me off outside the museum, smiling and giggling, as he points to the entrance. He seems most amused at a westerner visiting this place. “What I am getting myself into?” I think.

Read more at Eros Zine.


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