Sheikh Nefzawi and his Perfumed Garden

Erotica means ‘Literature of art dealing with Sexual Love’. Sexual Love is a world of its own and nothing quite compares with it. The ecstasy savored in a union with a woman can never be matched by anything else. This act of procreation is sanctified from the dawn of civilization.
The Perfumed Garden’ is one such book on erotica which is credited to Sheikh Nefzawi. Titled as the Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight the book is a rare piece of erotic art. Not much is known of this writer except that he was commissioned by the Grand Vizier of Tunis to put to paper ‘the source of the greatest pleasure in order that this knowledge is widely known.’
Sheikh Nefzawi after considerable effort produced a book that is unrivaled as a work of erotic literature. The book written in Arabic during 15th century is generally considered a classic of erotic art. Some historians have opined that the book was compiled between 1410 and 1434 AD. The book contains stories integral to the text and serves the purpose of amplifying the theories of the Sheikh.
The Perfumed garden gives good advice to a lover. It lays great stress on foreplay and then goes on to discuss 36 positions for a union between a man and a woman. The sheikh displays his imagination by giving the positions names that can titillate ones imagination. The stories which are interwoven in this classic add to its erotic value. The sheik lays great stress on a man kissing his beloved cheeks, naval and thighs.
The book was translated by the English man Richard Burton who also translated the Kamasutra, the Hindu classic on sexual love as well as the Arabian nights. The book was comparatively unknown till its translated version appeared in 1886. The interest generated in the book can also be seen from the fact that a new French translation by Rene R Kharak appeared in 1976
The book published in England by the Kama Shasta Society apart from discussing the sexual union also gives advice on the foods to be eaten to enhance sexual prowess. The book basically concerns the sexuality of the woman. It is a wonder that the sheikh thought of this so many hundreds of years back.
The sheikh writes of women who are to be held in contempt and women who are to be praised. He also gives sundry names to the sexual organs of women and men. For example, the male organ is referred to as ‘he with one eye’, ‘the pigeon’, ‘the pusher’, ‘the liberator’, ‘the exciter’, ‘the swimmer’ – just to name a few. The female parts are referred to as ‘the hot one’, ‘the glutton’, ‘the beautiful’, ‘the silent one’ – and many more.
He further discusses the deceits and treacheries of women and amplifies them through his stories that are integral to the text. The book also contains much erotic poetry. Among the foods recommended are drinking camels milk and eating eggs fried in butter. There are many other aphrodisiacs mentioned to enhance the sexual prowess of man. The book also has a chapter on interpretation of dreams and animal sex.
This Arabic manual though written many centuries ago deserves its place as one of the great written pieces of erotic literature that has stood the test of time.