Sex: Prostitutes and Poets

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A portrait of Xue Tao (far left) by an anonymous Ming Dynasty painter

A portrait of Xue Tao (far left) by an anonymous Ming Dynasty painter

For a long time in ancient China, prostitution was completely legal. As scholar Lin Yutang (林语堂) wrote: “One can never overstate the important roles Chinese prostitutes played in romantic relationships, literature, music, and politics.” The contradiction between the modern and the ancient concepts of prostitution in part comes from the origin of the word itself. The Chinese character for prostitute, 妓 (jì), is not so much to do with sex but instead “a female performer”. These women did not just offer sex but rather the pleasure of their company through music, singing, dancing, and even poetry.

Full text can be viewed here: Prostitutes and Poets

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