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Erotica: A Review of the Arabic Manual; 'The Perfumed Garden' by Sheikh Nefazi

An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 120 short stories and 15 books on fiction and 4 on military history.



I have had a copy of this book "The Perfumed Garden" for many decades. The history of how got a copy of the book is interesting. While traveling by first-class by rail from Bombay to Delhi, I was honored to have a companion who was the head of the Polytechnic at Aligarh Muslim University. As the train takes more than 24 hours to travel to Delhi, both of us spent time talking and getting to know each other.

As the train neared Delhi, the professor took my address and promised to send me two books which he was sure I would like. To say the least, the professor was an extremely devout man and during the train apologized to me and took out his mat and prayed five times as enshrined for all good Muslims. A few days later I received the two books as promised by the professor.

One of the books was the holy Quran ( English translation) and the second was the original translation of the "Perfumed Garden" by the English writer Sir Richard Burton. I must mention here that Burton was not the first to have translated this tome. The original translation was by a French author and printed by Isidore Liseux in 1886. Before I give readers an insight into this lovely piece of literature I must digress on the word erotica, which is the theme of the Perfumed Garden.

Webster Dictionary defines Erotica as "Literature of art dealing
with Sexual Love." In other words, it denotes an aspect of life that is looked down upon by many. Having written this, there are millions who feel that this form of the physical aspect of love is the epitome of the delight and rapture. The fact is that nothing quite compares with it. Food, drink, and travel have a place but do not match the sublime ecstasy of a union of a man and a woman. The Perfumed Garden
is a book that addresses this aspect of human relationships.


Origin of the Book

The book traces its origin to the 15th century. It is one of the oldest pieces of literature. Compared to the Indian "Kama Sutra" which was compiled around 3000 BC, the Perfumed Garden is a more recent book. The book is supposed to have been written by a man named Sheikh Nefzawi. Nothing much is known about him. He appears to be a shadowy figure but researchers generally agree that he was the man who compilated the "The Perfumed Garden". This is the ultimate book on erotic
literature. We must thank the translator Sir Francis Richard Burton who died in 1890 for bringing this classic to the world for posterity.

Not much is known about the writer of this monumental book. It appears that Sheikh Nefzawi was commissioned by the Grand Vizier of Tunis, who directed him to compile a book that would be the source of the greatest pleasure known to man.

Out of the scanty details available it is known that the real name of the writer was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ben Umar Nafzawi. He was born among the Berber Nefzawa tribe close to present-day Tunisia. He compiled the work at the request of the Hafsid ruler of Tunis, Abū Fāris ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Mutawakkil. As far as literature is concerned, this work from the Arab world ranks at par with the Arabian Nights.


The Book: Contents

The Perfumed Garden start's with an introduction and is followed by 21 chapters. Only 20 chapters are available and the 21st chapter is missing. The book is about 100-pages long. Many people have wondered what the last chapter contains. Now we know that the exorcised chapter refers to a discussion on homosexuality. This could be the reason that the chapter was censored. Richard Burton was working on translating this chapter when he died. His wife Isabela was aghast that her husband was compiling pornographic material and burnt all his notes. This chapter is not available.

Discussion and first chapters

The Sheikh soon produced a book of Erotica that in some ways is unrivaled as a work of erotic literature. Interspersed in the entire book is a series of tales that amplify the theory of the work. The book treats the generative act as a source of great pleasure and advises a lover not to mate with a woman until he has excited
her with playful caresses.

He goes on to say a beloved is to be excited by any number of methods that include kissing her cheeks, lips, and teats. He lays stress on the naval and thighs. The Sheikh
then goes on to discuss thirty-six poses and positions for love. There is however a difference in this chapter between Burton's translation and the original French book. The French translation lists only 11 positions for coition compared to Burton who lists 36. One wonders whether Burton added a few.

The Tales in the Book

The book by the Sheikh reveals a side of human life often kept under wraps in the Christian world. He proves a master storyteller, who had infinite knowledge of love and all its facets. The book has many stories. To give an idea of the versatility of the writer a few of the stories are brought out below in a concise form. The stories can be read as a stand-alone as well and the reader will realize that the appeal of the Sheikh's book is eternal. The stories illustrate the theories propounded by the Shiekh and embellish the book.

The story of Bauloul
The Sheikh relates an interesting tale regarding a Jester named Bauloul. This man had a cloak that was desired by the princess Hamdouma. Once passing by the princess's chamber, her eye fell on the robe. She desired it and asked the Jester to come inside and give it to her. The jester said that he would only give it to her in case she agreed to give herself to him. Now the jester was a strong man and eyeing him the princess thought to let him have her and take his robe.

Hamdouna with a pearl-shaped belly gave herself to the jester. After the act, she asked for the robe. Bauloul replied that as he had mated with her in one way, she must mate another way to restore the equilibrium. The princess thrilled with the first encounter gave her consent for a second and after that, a third-round ensued.

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The jester handed the robe and prepared to depart. Just then the Emir entered and was surprised to see Bauloul there. He asked him why he was there and the Jester replied that he was passing by when the princess called him for some work and in the bargain, he broke a priceless cup. As a punishment, the princess had taken his robe. This was a witty answer and the Emir thundered to the princess to return the robe as it was not a good idea to punish a man for breaking a cup. The princess returned the robe and marveled at the ingenuity of Bauloul. She was unconcerned about the robe as she had been satisfied to the extreme by Bauloul.

Joida’s tale
The sheik relates another interesting tale. It concerned a beautiful woman Named Fadehat. She was a lady of unsurpassed beauty. She was coveted and loved by a neighbor named Joida. He wondered how he could subdue Fadehat and make her his own. To express his love for Joida, he hit on a bold plan. He decided to be on the offense and hope that God would fulfill his wish.

Entering inside he went straight to Joida and bared him before her. Seeing Joida the lady realized that Joida was a man with the greatest gift of God. The sheikh goes on to say that so enamored was Fadehat with the strength of Joida that she allowed him to undress her and partake of her body. He mated with her a total of twenty-seven times and transported her to rare moments of eternal bliss.

The tale of the Prophetess
The Sheik brings out the hypnotic effect of the act of copulation in another way. A person named Mosailama decided to seduce the Prophetess Shejat Temira. The prophetess was a non-believer but many worshiped her. Mosailama who desired the prophetess was able to seduceTemira. He was able to copulate with her in any number of ways, each of which was a total delight to her.

The result was traumatic. Temira forgets she was a prophetess and became a slave to Mosailama.

The stories in the manuscript form an integral to the book. The tales gel with the wisdom imparted. There are also chapters on foods and aphrodisiacs and one of the recommendations is camels milk, honey, and dates. As per the author, these are a sure shot recipe for vigor and vitality.


Last Word

Richard Burton was a prolific writer. Along with his translation of The Perfumed Garden, Burton also translated the Arabian Nights. The Perfumed Garden was first published in England by the Kama Sastha society.

Burton probably felt a close kinship with Sheikh Nefwazi. By translating this book he bared his soul. The baring of his soul and closeness to the act of coition could be one of the reasons for his ferocious passion in translating the ancient texts of this Arabic book as well as the Indian masterpiece written by Vatyasyana; The "Kamasutra.".


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 19, 2020:

Tom, thank you.

tom on October 18, 2020:

cloud door aka perfumed garden

tom on October 18, 2020:

anu agaarwal acted in this movie

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 18, 2020:

Tom will have a look

tom on October 18, 2020:

perfume garden available in youtube

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 27, 2020:

Tom, Thanks for the info

tom on September 27, 2020:

yes it is available

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 27, 2020:

Tom, I haven't seen the movie is it available on the net?

tom on September 26, 2020:

made as a movie anu agarwal acted in tis

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 25, 2020:

Pamela, I don't know how I missed your comment on this article, thank you very much for it though a little belated.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on July 24, 2020:

Anupam, nice that you commented.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on July 24, 2020:

Loved reading this as well. Though never read any erotica in such defined and elaborated manner with such interesting stories, a few months ago read a novel 'Good Girl Gone Bad' by Carmen Falcone ( on Kindle) and the other novel CLAIRE (is it really love), by Grace Gervas (on Whatpad) both of them were really very interesting. I enjoyed reading them.

Apart from this, I bought once Kamsutra from a book shop just after my marriage. Ironically I was preparing for my medical entrance. Imagine, how one is going to pass any exam with that. When my in-laws came to our place, they were cleaning my bookshelf and my mother in law came and asked me why I had kept that. I couldn't answer anything. That book was thrown away.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 09, 2020:

I have not heard of this book until now. It sure has an interesting history with the lost chapter and just how old it is since it was written so long ago. I'm sure many people like to read a book of erotic acts. You wrote a good review.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 08, 2020:

Thank you Anita for a nice comment

Anita Kanwar on February 08, 2020:

A fascinating article. I have read the Perfumed Garden many times and each time it enthralls me.

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