"A picture of monstrous obscenity" or a unique testimony of Egyptian culture: twelve erotic positions in an ancient papyus

Erotic Papyrus

Deir el-Medina (Egypt) — 1186-1070 b. C.

Erotic Papyrus

Erotic Papyrus

Deir el-Medina (Egypt) — 1186-1070 b. C.

  1. A unique artifact of ancient Egyptian culture: a 3,000+ year old-papyrus with explicit erotic depictions

  2. Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832) called the ancient scroll's twelve erotic positions "an image of monstrous obscenity"

  3. Additionally, the scroll presents satirical drawings of animal figures doing human activities

Papiro Erótico-Satírico

Erotic Papyrus

Standing Man and Seated Woman

With the help of tracing paper, the surviving fragments of this section can be pieced together into another erotic yet cartoonish scene. The missing section below the woman wearing a large flower in her cap makes it impossible to determine what she is seated on, perhaps a table. She reaches for her lover, but his oversized penis forces the both of them to awkwardly lean forward for these caresses. Is it simple satire or a statement about the often complicated relationship between love and sex?

Erotic Papyrus

N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Alternative Titles:
  • Der Erotische Papyrus
  • Papiro Erótico-Satírico
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

A unique artifact of ancient Egyptian culture: a 3,000+ year old papyrus with explicit erotic depictions. The so-called Erotic Papyrus from Turin, found at the ancient settlement of Deir el-Medina, presents these unique depictions alongside entertaining animal scenes in gorgeous drawings of the highest artistic worth. The artifact, referred to as an Egyptian Karma Sutra, already impressed its beholders in the 19th century, as exemplified by a copy of the drawings in the papyrus, the so-called Calco de pinturas egipicias.

Erotic Papyrus

During the 19th century, the famous French orientalist Jean-François Champollion already referred to the erotic-satirical papyrus in Turin as “an image of monstrous obscenity”. The papyrus reached Italy’s Drovetti collection in 1824 and was soon a hot topic of debate. The precious and unique artifact was found in Deir el-Medina, an old settlement of craftsmen and artists in Ancient Thebes. There lived the artisans who works in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.

A Unique Artifact

The painted scroll of the Erotic Papyrus of Turin originated from the period 1186-1017 B.C. and in spite of its age – 3,200 years – the 2.59 m long and 21 cm wide papyrus is well preserved. Thus, the exceptional pictures could be studied, delivering an insight into a chapter of ancient Egyptian culture that was previously completely unknown. A part of the scroll presents satirical drawings of animal figures doing human activities: playing musical instruments, dressed as soldiers, or playing board games. The remaining surface is filled with the erotic depictions that lend the manuscript its name: twelve explicit scenes of erotic positions.

A Much Studied Object

The Erotic Papyrus of Turin was probably the possession of a high-ranking person in ancient Egpyt. This is the only known ancient Egyptian papyrus with erotic depictions and has been the subject of intense study since its discovery. A wonderful testimonial thereof is the so-called Calco de pinturas egipcias in the Spanish National Library in Madrid. The paper scroll from the collection of Luis de Usoz (1805-1865), who lived in Italy at the time of the arrival of the Drovetti collection, presents a copy of the erotic depictions of the Papyrus. This historic copy is a wonderful resource for the study of the unique drawings!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Der Erotische Papyrus
Papiro Erótico-Satírico
Size / Format
1 roll / 21.0 x 259.0 cm
Date
1186-1070 b. C.
Content
Figures of animals in human attitudes (in the far right) and erotic figures.
Papiro Erótico-Satírico

Erotic Papyrus

Coitus on a Chariot

Here we have the tattered fragment of the most satiric miniature in this unique papyrus manuscript of ancient Egyptian erotica with its modern reconstruction on the page opposite. This is an image of two lovers: the woman is mounted on the chariot and looks back at the man, who is standing behind it. The smaller size of the three other figures indicates that they are servants.

While the man’s face has few features, the woman’s face is drawn with more detail and is portrayed as young and attractive. It appears as though she has a pet monkey of some kind, and her wrist is wrapped by a vine, which leads out of frame. The genitals of both male figures are exaggerated, either a nod to depictions of fertility gods, or simply for satirical effect.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Erotic Papyrus“

Papiro Erótico-Satírico
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
Erotic Papyrus – N. Inv. C. 2031 (CGT 55001) – Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)
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Papiro Erótico-Satírico

1 volume: So far both works had never been related. This edition creates for the first time an accurate reconstruction of what the Erotic Papyrus was, by overlapping the tracing and the papyrus you get to recuperate and contemplate the work with all its original glory. So far both works had never been related. This edition creates for the first time an accurate reconstruction of what the Erotic Papyrus was, by overlapping the tracing and the papyrus you get to recuperate and contemplate the work with all its original glory.
Publisher
BiblioGemma – Barcelona, 2013
Limited Edition
995
Commentary
1 volume
Language: Spanish
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