Art of the Bedchamber

The Chinese Sexual Yoga Classics Including Women's Solo Meditation Texts

By Douglas Wile

Subjects: Chinese Studies
Paperback : 9780791408865, 300 pages, February 1992
Hardcover : 9780791408858, 300 pages, February 1992

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Table of contents


I. Motive and Focus

II. The Ethos of Chinese Sexual Practices


The Empirical Ground
The Metaphysical Ground
The Individual and the Imperial Ideals
The Battle of the Sexes
The Cult of Youth
Sexual Practices and Ethics
The Sexology Classics as Literature


III. Sexual Practices and Medicine

IV. Sexual Practices and Taoism


The Position of Sexual Practices in Taoism
The Vocabulary of Sexual Yoga
Sexual Practices and Meditation


V. Thematic Progressions


The Pleasure Principle
The Position of Women
Ejaculation Frequency and Control
Sexual Energy


VI. The Development of Chinese Sexology


Chinese Studies
Western Studies


VII. Conclusion


VIII. The Han Classics Rediscovered


"Uniting Yin and Yang"
"Discourse on the Highest Tao under Heaven"


IX. The Sui-T'ang Classics Reconstructed


The Classic of Su Nu
Prescriptions of Su Nu
Essentials of the Jade Chamber
Secrets of the Jade Chamber
Tung Hsuan tzu


X. Medical Manuals and Handbooks for Householders


"Health Benefits of the Bedchamber"
"The Dangers and Benefits of Intercourse with Women"
The Wondrous Discourse of Su Nu
True Classic of Perfect Union
Exposition of Cultivating the True Essence


XI. The Elixir Literature of Sexual Alchemy


Seeking Instruction on the Golden Elixir
Ture Transmission of the Golden Elixir
Summary of the Golden Elixir
Secret Principles of Gathering the True Essence
"The Rootless Tree"


XII. Women's Practices


Queen Mother of the West's Ten Percepts
Essentials of the Golden Elixir Method for Women
Master Li Ni-wan's Precious Raft for Women's Dual Practice
Correct Methods for Women's Practice




Appendix: Dates of the Dynasties



This is the first comprehensive anthology of the Chinese sexology classics, the world's oldest and most advanced tradition of sexual yoga. While remaining accessible to the general reader, the translation of these texts, most never before translated in toto and some only recently unearthed in China, sets new standards of accuracy and scholarly felicity.

Douglas Wile is Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Brooklyn College.


"This is a comprehensive anthology and beautiful translation of over two millenia of Chinese treatises on the use and practice of sexual intercourse. The author has done a magnificent job of collecting materials. Because many of the texts have a quasi-legendary status, they must be reconstructed from citations in later authors. Furthermore, there have been a raft of Chinese sexologists in the last century who have scurrilously misquoted, abstracted, combined, and otherwise made a mishmash of materials. Wile has superbly sorted these things out to provide clear texts that make sense, and he has recorded the reasons for his decisions in notes.

"The long introduction is the most beautifully written 'review of sources' I have ever read. The writer's humor as well as easy erudition help. Not only does he explain the background of the texts, he analyzes their continuities, and divergences, and applies a thoroughly historical understanding to the development of Chinese sexology. This introduction alone establishes Wile as a major voice in religious studies. Sexology is a branch of religious studies when it is treated as the Taoists do as a means to immortality and perfected relations with the cosmos. " — Robert C. Neville, Boston University

"I am very impressed with the author's scholarship and expertise as well as with his deep and true insights into the nature of Chinese culture. Far too long has Taoism been considered a bullwark of feminism in ancient China, an idea which proves erroneous as soon as one takes the trouble to really look at the texts. This book is fascinating and absolutely wonderful to read. " — Livia Kohn, Boston University