Thursday, October 28, 2010

Byam Shaw: The Garden of Kama

PD Images above: Indian-born British painter, illustrator, designer and teacher Byam Shaw’s illustrations for The Garden of Kama, collection of poems by Adela Florence Nicolson (Laurence Hope).

John Shaw (1872-1919) is famous for his juicy illustrations for ‘The Garden of Kama’ by Adela Florence Nicolson, who used to write under a pseudonym, Laurence Hope. The book, published in 1914 by William Heinemann, London, is a collection of love poems which were not translated from Indian literature as commonly thought, but they were originals written by Nicolson in times when it was difficult for a female writer to publish such texts, hence her pseudonym.

The themes were inspired by The Kama Sutra (or Kamasutram or Kamasutra), an ancient Indian Hindu text written by written by Mallanaga Vatsyayana in the second century CE, widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior. Traditionally, the first transmission of Kama Shastra (science of sex) or ‘Discipline of Kama’ (Kama means sensual or sexual pleasure) is attributed to the sacred bull Nandi, Lord Shiva's doorkeeper, who was moved to sacred utterance by overhearing the lovemaking of the god and his wife Parvati and later recorded for the benefit of mankind.

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