Friday, December 23, 2005

Stamped with beauty

Permission to reprint or copy this article must be obtained from The Hindustan Times.

Philately erotica has been around for two hundred years
Shevlin SebastianMumbai

Philately erotica: Not many know there is a subject like this and not many people know that in Mumbai, there is an avid collector who has been collecting erotic stamps, postcards, first-day envelopes and paintings for the past 30 years. He is none other than the eminent sexologist Prakash Kothari. “Erotica is a subject that transcends barriers of history and culture,” says Kothari. There are two types of collectors. One collects old stamps and tidbits. And the other collects stamps around a particular theme. Kothari belongs to the second category and his theme, to use his words, “is the thematic exploration of the history of erotica from around the world.” Whichever country he goes for a talk, be it Japan, Britain, USA, Canada or Cuba, he sets aside one day to prowl the philately shops and would spend a maximum of $100. Once in London, Kothari went into a philately shop and saw hundreds of love letters. He picked up one and it turned out to be an erotic letter addressed by a commandant of a brigade at Malaga, Spain to his wife in Boulogne, France: “I have kissed your blood over and over again (two drops of blood can be seen on the letter) and I shall cut it out of the letter and put it behind your picture. In return, I shall send you some of mine from my lips, it will convey my kisses to you.” Asked how he developed an interest, Kothari says, “I collect erotic art in general, so I thought to myself, why not philately. It was a virgin field and I do get excited whenever I enter a virgin territory.” He pauses, his black eyes twinkling, and bursts out laughing, clearly enjoying the double entendre. So far, Kothari has collected 5,000 stamps and around 500 varieties of postcards, (all actually posted), which includes hand-drawn, fantasy, autographed, humourous, silk, bookmark, embroidered, embossed, silhouette and voyeuristic postcards. And he has several erotic drawings by Indian artists like Manu Parekh, Satish Gujral, Naren Panchal and the Kolkata-based Sunil Das who had drawn on a bull, a sexual symbol, on the back of a postcard and sent it by ordinary post and it reached Kothari in Mumbai. Who says the Indian Post does not work? Asked about the market value of his collection, Kothari says, “This is a passion for me and passion is always priceless.”

The horse as sex symbol
By Prakash Kothari

The horse is a symbol of the male and female sex. During sexual intercourse, the partner that is riding, that means, on top, is in control. So therefore, when you ride, you feel a sense of control. It is no accident that riding is a sexual term. Sitting on a saddle stimulates and strengthens the perineum in both the male and the female. A horse is visually exciting. Reduced to its components--prominent buttocks, sleek surface, swinging gait and long mane--the horse has many features associated with a sexually attractive woman. The physical appearance also inspires raw strength, grace and elegance, qualities that men aspire to and women desire in their lovers. An unbridled horse is considered a symbol of unbridled passion and vibrant sexuality. In ayurveda, the section on potency is called vajeekaran, (making a man like a horse).

* The first stamp in the world was released on May 6, 1840 in England.
* The first erotic stamp, a nude, and triangular in shape, was released in South Africa on September 1, 1853.
* The first Indian stamp, released in Sindh in 1854, was called Scinde Dawk. ‘Scinde’ was the British spelling of Sindh while ‘Dawk’is the anglicised spelling of ‘Dak’ or post. To this day, India’s first stamps are referred to simply as The Scinde Dawks.
* The first international postcard was released in 1865. In India, the first erotic postcard was released in 1879. · The concept of the adhesive stamp was introduced in England on May 6, 1840. Prior to this, the correspondence was done was in folded letters known as pre stamped letters or stampless letters. This was carried by foot runners or riders on horseback posted a few kilometres apart. The postage was paid by the sender or the addressee. The facility was usually reserved for royalty or officials of the state. The first thematic collection was exhibited in 1908 by philately auction house Stanley Gibbons. They offered stamps arranged according to the subject.

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