The female gaze

New edition of Kama Sutra features illustrations from ‘the women’s point of view’

A new edition of the Kama Sutra includes illustrations by award-winning illustrator Victo Ngai, who says that her artwork will effectively “[situate] the viewers from the women’s point of view.” The Folio Society, which released this latest edition of the legendary 1,600-year-old Sanskrit text, has said that they wanted their version of the ancient sex guide to be the most “vividly imagined” yet.

According to The Daily Mail, the Folio Society’s new edition is also the first to have been illustrated by a woman, but in an email to Women in the World a spokesperson for the Folio Society it hasn’t been able to confirm the claim. “To our knowledge she is the first female illustrator,” Ella Stoodley of The Folio Society said, adding that “there may have been women who worked on illustrated editions in the past, but have not been properly credited.”

Speaking with The Daily Mail, Ngai said that her feminist take on the text, which was originally written for men and by men, wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision.

“Examining the pieces now in hindsight, I believe I did subconsciously worked from a female-centric perspective,” said Ngai. “For example, many of the scenes are composed in a way that situates the viewers in the women’s point of view, while the writing often reflects the patriarchal attitude of its time.”

“Kama Sutra in its essence is a guidebook of achieving good Karma — love, sensual pleasure — which is one of the four purusarthas or goals in life,” she continued. “Sex is a big part in the book, but there’s so much more to it than just intercourse positions, contrary to its portrayal in popular cultures. So instead of creating illustrations which are overtly sexual, I tried to walk the fine line of creating something that’s tantalizing, yet thoughtful and elegant at the same time.”

Watch a video preview of the new edition from the Folio Society below.

Read the full story at The Daily Mail.

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