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Reflections on Khajuraho

The original primordial fire of eroticism is sexuality; it raises the red flame of eroticism, which in turn raises and feeds another flame, tremulous and blue. It is the flame of love and eroticism. The double flame of life.
—Octavio Paz

As you enter the western temple complex in Khajuraho you will be awestruck by the grandeur of the temples and as you delve deeper, the vision and open mindedness of the people who conceived and built them.


Imagine the resources, number of the architects, civil, mechanical engineers, artisans, sculptors, draftsmen, laborers, models these temples needed to build these temples...astounding!

But people focus on just one thing (we will get there in a minute) and let that one thing distract them - how witless, how immature! The narrative of 'why' is repetitive, bigoted and boring. We will not go there.

The interiors are dark but beautifully decorated with stone carvings in abstract geometric patterns, with great attention to the details. 

The following content is for grown ups (both physically and mentally) the theme is mature - use your discretion and judgement in reading and sharing.

Erotic Sculptures of Khajuraho

Yes, there is surfeit of erotic sculptures on the walls of sacred temples and there are so many other sculptures of people dancing, waging wars, working or just living their lives. We feel compelled to talk about erotic sculptures just because they are more interesting and relatable?

Why have erotic sculpture on the walls of temples? that's not an interesting question for me because most of the answers tend to be bigoted bullshit.

How? that question is interesting! How did they do it?

Think about it...when these temples were built sex was obviously not a topic of taboo. The sculptors (there must be many of them in teams) need models to understand the anatomy and dynamics of people engaging in sex - the devil is in the detail. They couldn't have just dreamt or imagined these sculptures, these details must be seen, drawn, clay models produced. They must have had many models performing these acts, they must have made many drawings, many models - which explains why sculptures are similar but not the same. They must have built a village around the complex where dozens of models are at work and sculptors watching, making drawings, creating clay models, discussing, planning and then working on the stone. 

If you look carefully, there are both similarities and variations in the art work. I noticed 3 types of erotic depictions (depending on how you look at it) - this is a layman observation - I am no expert in ancient art and this is not an authoritative or comprehensive classification.

  1. Orgies involving 4 people or more

  2. Couples

  3. Solo riders


People of all shapes and sizes involved in an acrobatic orgies - two active participants and the rest either passive, or assisting the main subjects. Some people wonder how it is possible - I'd say first get rid of that silly bigot in your head and open your mind. There's no need to assume that these people are standing.

There's varying skill level of the sculptors. Some were very skilled and experienced  - their works quite elegant and graceful while other sculptures are not as good - their works are not as detailed, seem unfinished. Some sculptures are just incomplete where heads are just blobs of stones.

Some subjects (men in the sculptures) are bearded, others clean shaven, some women slender, some voluptuous. Some people are assisting the primary or main subjects and others bashful and embarrassed yet pleasuring themselves while watching what's happening. Then there are servants (?) depicted as smaller figurines helping those secondary subjects, and sometimes you will find a monkey thrown in too (a symbolic thing for human nature?).


These layers of personalities, their preferences, their roles and social statuses creates an interesting tapestry of thoughtful and ideas. The kind of personality, creativity, open mindedness, libertarian views you need to project manage this is rare, creative and original. Think about it, what were those people like? How brilliant they could be?


Though the pose is similar in the following sculptures, some sculptures look like they are the same, they are not,  perhaps they were created by the same sculptor. In some the facial expressions are subtle and appropriate, in others not so much. To truly appreciate you need to take time, observe each one and visualize people's attitudes and acts, what, how and so on and that's when you will be able to appreciate it. 

After repeating the same sculpture, someone must have decided to try something different, or perhaps the tastes evolved, sculptors and their patrons preferred to depict simpler, more practical and easier ways engaging in sex than the acrobatic maneuvers their earlier generations had a taste for. Note that these temples were built between the years 885 and 1000 - 115 years that's 3 or 4 generations of people - tastes evolve from generation to generation.

The following is a more visceral, wild orgy as you can see - perhaps the scene of a brothel. Someone very motivated tried to chisel away the details to erase it entirely rather than to break and destroy but eventually understood the futility of this idiotic exercise and left or just died before completing his bigoted pique.

If an interesting sculptures are defaced, people will try and fill in the missing details in their minds. Actually partial defacement generates more interest than otherwise. It is counter productive. Like I'm making a special mention exactly because it was defaced or I would have just made a passing mention of it.


Erotic Couples

Subtler than the orgies, these sculptures depict couple in different stages of love making in privacy, starting from cuddling, all the way through to recovering - no assistants or peeping Tom or peeping Jane here, nor monkeys or servants. Perhaps these are regular, daily affairs whereas the orgies are for special occasions.