The Tabooed Sense
An awkward silence always falls when we unknowingly ruffle the topic of sex, and often, we observe people reserving themselves from speaking out loud about this subject. As natural as sex is for humans, it is as complicated for human society.
And, it is simply because our society has taught us to behave in such a way. Sex is an uncomfortable topic to discuss in public, and therefore, when we witness nudity and erotic images in some way or the other in our lives, we either laugh our way out, or act indifferent to the situation before us. Nevertheless, despite it all, our discomfort will always meet an eye with the erotic when we visit the old valley of Kathmandu.
The numerous shrines and monuments in the valley elaborately discuss or narrate the subject of copulation through artwork that is erotic in the extreme. And this is why we chose to write a story about it for an in-depth feature for our craft special. How does erotic artwork find significance in a coy culture like ours? In a culture where we avoid, or leave, conversations when the topic of sex swings in. From when did these artworks entwine with our history, and how does it fit into a conservative society like ours?
Some say that these erotic sculptures are engraved in the struts to teach us about sex positions, which, absurd as it sounds, many of us believe as one of the reasons why they are up there. However, there are other stories that are interlaced within such eroticism that our writer, Rajendra Balami, brilliantly explains with wry humor in ‘The Plain View of the Erotic’.
And, in this month’s cover story, Luigi Fieni, Himalayan art conservator of American Himalayan Foundation, shares his journey of ‘Restoring Living Culture’ in the Thupchen Gonpa of Lo Manthang, where his team overcame their greatest challenge of training locals to restore the monastery around which their lives revolved.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much we enjoyed putting it together.