Ancient Taboos Professor Seeks to Relax China's Views on Sex

Article excerpt

Liu Dalin believes the ancient Chinese philosophers were right about at least one thing - that life boils down to food and sex.

Liu, 64, is making a new career out of meshing China's traditionally conservative attitudes toward sex with the increasingly open and Western-influenced views on the subject.

For years, he has been a host of phone-in radio shows giving people in Shanghai a chance to discuss problems in marriages and relationships, and also maintains a private museum on ancient Chinese "sexual culture." The museum, which includes 1,000-year-old dildos and furniture especially designed for love-making, is private because of those conservative attitudes - officialdom is not wholly happy about his research and activities. "They don't object, which is progress. But they don't want the topic to get too hot and open," said Liu, who is a professor of sociology at Shanghai University. He was prompted to start collecting sexually related material from China's past in 1989 when the police asked him to inspect some items they had found. "They had done a sweep for pornographic material and had found lots of old paintings and books and paraphernalia. "Most of it they burned, but they wanted me to give them an opinion of the value of two bags of the stuff they had left," he said. He was unhappy about the destruction, and decided to gather together the surviving material from this dark corner of China's past. …

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