Sex in the Yellow Emperor's Basic Questions
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Sex in the Yellow Emperor's Basic Questions
Paperback 34.95 USD
Electronic File 15.00 USD To order, please go to
Jessieca Leo
220 Pages, Illustrated
January 2011
ISBN 978-1-931483-18-6


Why sex and sexuality in the Yellow Emperor's Basic Questions (Huangdi neijing suwen)? The Suwen, the oldest medical text in China, compiled around the beginning of the Common Era, is still highly relevant today.

Jessieca Leo's work is a study of sexuality as an aspect of medical knowledge with particular reference to the social and literary context of the Han period. She begins with an overview of the study and research of sexual culture of ancient and early China and examines how Suwen theories were developed and transmitted. Then the work outlines traditional views of the reproductive process, including concepts of sexual maturity, conception, fertility, and declining powers. It provides detailed analyses of traditional anatomy and ancient understanding of procreation.

The book also deals with healthcare, examining how bedchamber arts can help to prevent and cure diseases, including but not limited to sexual maladies and the consequences of over-indulgence. Finally, it looks at sex and health within Suwen medical theories as part of an emerging new understanding of medical theory and knowledge.

Thoroughly researched and well founded, the book is a pleasure to read and easy to understand. Its rich presentation of how sexual culture was perceived in early China contributes greatly to a better understanding of Chinese history and culture and also of human nature.

The Author

Jessieca Leo obtained her B. Sc. in Chemistry and Economics from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand and her M.A. in Sinology from the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany. Her areas of interest include History of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Art and Archaeology, Mongolian, and Hakka Studies.


This book is fascinating, deep, essential reading for anyone interested in sex as the hidden force ruling bodily and spiritual health. . . . I have been reading works in this field for thirty years and was amazed at how much new Jessieca Leo had to teach me. . . . This is a book you will literally take to bed.

--Michael Winn, Healing Tao USA

Jessieca Leo examines a part of the Chinese classical medical tradition that has until now received little attention. . . . This book deserves a place on the shelves of all scholars of the ancient Chinese medical traditions.

--Steve Jackowicz, Adelphi University


Jessieca Leo presents an excellent and detailed study of the earliest systematic thought about the physical, physiological, psychological, and environmental aspects of sexuality and how they are related to longevity. . . . I highly recommend it to everyone interested in the sexual culture of China.

--Dominique Hertzer, University of Munich


Jessieca Leo has opened our eyes to a fascinating aspect of early Chinese thought that Westerners seldom have access to. . . Anyone interested in Chinese history and culture will find it hugely enlightening.

--Richard Bannerman, BBC Producer


Jessieca Leo traces sex and sexuality in early China in sources that have long been neglected. Clear language and new translations from the Yellow Emperor's Basic Questions guide readers on an interesting track into a basic aspect of Chinese history and culture.

--Rodo Pfister, University of Basel


Jessieca Leo's Sex in the Yellow Emperor's Basic Questions is a truly remarkable achievement. Leo successfully combines philological precision with fresh analyses, questioning the received communis opinio on sexuality, medicine and sexual culture in early China. It is easy to read and a pleasure to digest. Highly recommended.

--Burkhard Scherer, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.