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English>>Life & Culture

No sex please, we're skittish

By Shan Juan  (China Daily)

08:23, October 18, 2012

Ma Xiaonian displays his collection of materials relating to sexual matters at his museum in Beijing, which was believed to be one of the few museums of sexual culture in China. (China Daily)

China has had an uneasy relationship with sex over the past few decades. Until relatively recently, public displays of affection were often frowned upon. However, the 250,000 visitors to a recent sex fair in Guangzhou may indicate a change in contemporary attitudes, and as reports, sex hasn't always been regarded as taboo in China.

Ma Xiaonian, chief physician at the sexology department of Yuquan Hospital at Beijing's Tsinghua University, likes his work.

In addition to his clinical duties, Ma is also a collector of materials relating to the "birds and bees". However, he's recently become worried about the "treasures," he's collected over the course of the past two decades.

The 1,200 pieces, mainly artifacts dating back 2,000 years, include a huge Shang Dynasty (c. 16th-11th century BC) jade carving in the shape of a penis, a silver penis holder depicted in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) novel Jin Ping Mei, often translated in English as The Plum in the Golden Vase, which was used to help men maintain erections for longer, and ceramic items from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), featuring highly explicit images.

The pieces were, until recently, on show in North China's only museum of sexual culture, but are now in storage. China has two other sex museums - one in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and the other in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, which opened in 2004.

"My collection is now 'homeless,' and the pieces are lying on the floor of a warehouse, with no one to view them," said Ma.

Ma's museum closed in late September, because the building - located outside Beijing's West Fourth Ring Road - is undergoing a year-long process of renovation.

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