Recent findings suggest that the aristocrats of the ancient Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) really knew how to have a good time.
During a series of excavations of the tombs of 2,000-year-old elites in Jiangsu province, archaeologists uncovered a treasure trove of items including ceramics, vessels, loofahs, and, most intriguingly, bronze dildos and jade butt plugs.
However, researchers believe that the butt plugs were used less for sexual purposes and more for spiritual ones. At the time, jade was a priceless commodity believed to be able to ward off the ravages of spiritual and bodily decay. Therefore, embalmers used the butt plugs to “seal up” a corpse in case of any nasty after-death leaks.
“The jade plugs are used to seal the body and keep in vital essences that can leak out during life and death,” exhibition curator Fan Zhang told IFLScience. “Basically, it is to maintain the qi. The most important orifice was the mouth, and we have a beautiful example of a mouth seal in the shape of a cicada in the exhibition.”
While the use of the jade butt plugs may have been disappointingly less than sensual, the two hollow bronze phallus-shaped objects do appear to have been worn as massive strap-on dildos, likely by men.
“Useable bronze dildos are still relatively rare finds, though far from unheard of, and they are occasionally found in elite tombs,” Zhang added. “They were all definitely made for use, and we can speculate based on their various bases how they were worn. They’re all bespoke, and the ones we have here might have been laced into place with leather or silk thongs, though it’s not clear if they were designed for men or women — they’re not heavy at all — though the phallus without the ring form was likely for a man since it was found in a king’s tomb.”
Perhaps Chinese villagers have their own theories as to their use though.
[Images via Yizheng Museum]
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