THE JEWEL IN THE LOTUS BY ALLEN EDWARDES
Allen Edwardes was the pen name of a scholar of oriental erotica, the most famous of whose books was The Jewel in the Lotus: A Historical Survey of the Sexual Culture of the East, published in 1959 by the Julian Press in New York. In its introduction by the well-known American psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis, it was welcomed as “virtually the only existing work in English which systematically describes and analyzes the sex customs and ideas which were prevalent in the East and, especially the Middle East, in pre-twentieth century times. Selecting discriminatingly from the writings of Sir Richard F. Burton, the greatest of all students of Persian-Arabian eroticism, and from classical Oriental sources, Edwardes has patiently classified the most important aspects of Asiatic sex life.”
Presented here from pages 239-54 is “Pederasty”, the second of the four sections of the seventh chapter entitled “Sexual Perversion: Matter of Taste”. Edwardes’s “East” means Asia minus Siberia but plus Egypt, though there is heavy concentration on the Islamic parts of that.
Stay not thy gaze upon the beardless, for on them is a momentary eye-glance at the nymphs of Paradise.
The Prophet Mohammed, glory hunter and humanitarian, was far from naïve. He steered the Arab tribesmen from the ancient path of idolatry, leading them into pure and simple monotheism, but he could not steer the inherent complexity of emotions and wonted sexual inclinations. Religious belief was superficial, but passion and taste were not; conviction changed with years and rulers and environment, but human nature remained virtually unaltered. Thus, like any man of sagacity, tact, and discretion, Mohammed retained in his judgment upon sex a surprisingly fatalistic attitude. In order to wield power, he had to impose tolerable unity and discipline yet preserve vital social custom, to avoid indiscretions that might cruse his downfall.
Mohammed thereby won over a stanch and free-thinking people. His mesmeric fanaticism, tempered by national pride and common sense, made this innovator one of the greatest and most curious of earth-shaking human beings. And that mesmeric fanaticism, proclaiming the ideals men long held in their hearts, roared as wildfire throughout the East.
lshk-ozree or uflautoonee (excusable, platonic love) was deeply felt amongst the idealistic Arabs. Once virtuous, as in venerable Greece, it soon became debased into vice. Natural affection for the pert, comely, girlish youth declined into licentious desire and uninhibited debauchery.
When the tempestuous storm of El-Islam had blown its last proselytizing blasts across Asia and men settled down to apply the practical tenets of Lord Mohammed, justification for pederasty was sought in the Koran. Besides sloe-eyed hooreeyehs, the Prophet promised beautiful young boys to wait upon all True Believers in Paradise. Subsequently, this tradition paved the way for mundane adoration and emulation of the glories of Eternal Bliss:
And when one blast shall sound the trumpet, and the earth shall be dashed from its place, and the mountains also – and shall be dashed in pieces at one stroke - on that day, the inevitable Hour of Judgment shall suddenly come. And for the pious is prepared a place of bliss: gardens planted with trees, and vineyards, and damsels with swelling breasts - of equal age with themselves - and a full cup. Therein shall receive them beautiful damsels, refraining their eyes from beholding any besides their spouses, whom no man shall have debowered before their destined spouses, neither any jinn. Verily, we have created the damsels of Paradise by a peculiar creation; and we have made them virgins beloved by their husbands, of equal age with them and deflowered by neither man nor spirit. And youths, which shall continue forever in their bloom, shall go round to attend them with goblets brimming of wine.
The Brahmins did famously with their temple brothels, but vast income was soon reaped by houses of male prostitution in the Moslem casbahs; the fathers of desirable youths became wealthy overnight. After boy prostitution had become firmly established as a lucrative and recognized custom, shrewd Mohammedans inverted Koranic meaning and boasted to the sensual Hindoos that their scriptures allowed no more profit through sexual liberty than did El-Koran. Sacred dogmas soon became complexly corrupted. Mohammed, were he aware of this, must have turned over in his grave. The virtuous wuldaun or ghilmaun of Paradise (beautiful beardless youths) were interpreted as salacious catamites; the Abode of Eternal Bliss was, for the vulgar and ignorant mind, converted into a slough of dissipation of which Rizwaun, the Moslem St. Peter, was sacred whore-master.
A beardless and handsome youth (emred) was scarcely safe in the streets of Cairo. Whenever he passed the coffee shop, men glared heatedly, grinned, and gesticulated for him to come over and sit down. Were he by caution to pass them by, they invariably shrilled in all mournfulness: “Heaven deprive us not of thee!”or, coarsely ironic: “Behhefzillah!” (God preserve thee for another day).
The American street corner with its collection of scrutinizers of passing girls finds its historical counterpart in the open Mohammedan gehweh (coffeehouse), where men utterly ignored the passing doe-eyed lass. Women were abundant and cheap, but the provocative, rump-wriggling lad was a treasure; and men puffed and snorted, devouring with glaring eyes any tender willow-branch of a lad who quivered by.
Seest not the bazaar, with its fruit in rows?
These men are for figs, and sycamore those!
The Oriental market place with its congregations of oglers certainly presented a bizarre scene to the uninformed newcomer.
Quoth they - and I had trained my taste thereto, nor cared for other fruits whereby they swore –
“Why lovest so the Fig?” - whereto, quoth I: “Some men love Fig and, others, Sycamore.”
This philosophic expression of taste, common throughout Asia, was of various forms, all wryly euphemistic. “He loves to eat both figs and pomegranates,” signified bisexuality (the fig metaphorically indicating anus, and the pomegranate, often sycamore, vulva). There was apparently no shame in such disclosure; in fact, to be capable of equally handing both sexes was the substance of great pride and denoted inexhaustible virility. Only the few self-conscious or a lecherous holy man chanced to reveal:
Indeed, my heart loves all the lovely boys as girls - nor am I slow to such delight;
But, though I sight them every night and morn, I’m neither of Lot’s folk nor wincher-wight.
Others, boasting of their virtue and strength of will against diabolic temptation, made themselves unpopular as hypocrites by reciting:
My prickle is big; and the catamite said: “Thrust boldly in vitals, with lion like stroke!”
Then, I: “’Tis a sin!” he: “No sin to me!”
So I had him at once, with a counterfeit poke.
But the average full blooded Moslem, cross legged and swinging his sherbet cup in the market place, proclaimed loud and clear:
None wotteth best joyance but generous youth, when the pretty ones deign with me company
Heaven bless them! how sweetly my night with them sped: a wonderful harvest of pleasure I
Let us drink our good liquor, both watered and pure, and agree to swive all who dare slumber
To this, the average full blooded Moslem wench would more than likely reply: “Ehhsen-el-medaurehh-lil-kereem shebaub-el-Gehennem!” (the best of places for generous youth is Gehenna).
Womankind: what, as a whole, must they have thought? Many, characteristically acknowledging bald custom, thought little of it or were amused, but rarely jealous or scornful. Little is recorded as to feminine reaction toward pederasty; but one crude yet earnest poem, composed by a learned matriarch (sheykheh), may be said to have answered for the more intelligent of Arab women:
Men’s turning unto bums of boys is bumptious; whoso loveth noble women show their own
How many goodly wights have slept the night, enjoying buttocks of boys, and woke at morn
in foulest mess –
Their garments stained by safflower, which is yellow merde - their shame proclaiming,
showing color of, distress?
Who can deny the charge, when so bewrayed are they, that e’en by daylight shows the dung
upon their dress?
What contrast wi’ the man, who slept a gladsome night by houri maid: for glance, a mere
He rises off her, borrowing wholesome bonny scent: that fills the house with whiffs of
No boy deserved place by side of her to hold - nor canst e’en aloes-wood with that which fills
a pool of cess!
But feminine opinion in regard to the diversion of men was irrelevant. In lands where a wife might be sent packing with only the utterance of three peremptory words as sufficient divorce proceedings, woman was apt discreetly to adopt the fatalistic indifference of her spouse even when, angry at her for a miscarriage or periodic indisposition, he chanted:
Fair to the sight, a well shaped wight!
Slim waist and boyish wits delight wencher as well as sodomite!
I clipt his form and wax’d drunk with his scent,
Fair branch to whom Zephyr gave nutriment!
The least of him is the being free from monthly courses and pregnancy!
The neurotic temperament of Moslem, particularly Egyptian youth, assisted by a generally morbid distribution of sensory tissue, made them highly apt for such a profession as pederasty (ishk-el-oolaud, love of boys). And the voracious Son of Islam, lusting for novelty, fashioned the ganymede into an almost indispensable manner of entertainment. As dancing boys they obsessed nearly every Eastern potentate, and they were found writhing in nearly every hazaar. And, next to the female prostitute, the catamite or ganymede (welled, meloot) reaped the fortunes and celebration of princes.
The weals of this world are the catamite’s meed;
Would that I were of the sodomite breed!
Entering male prostitution in Egypt was quite elementary; one had only to be attractive. The methods of rising to fame were manifold. Boys of the gypsy tribes were born into pederasty; others, seized by slavers, were sold into it. And not a few, dazzled by the allure of riches and esteem, broke in of their own free will. Poverty accounted for a goodly deal of it, and shame and discomfort often were its conditions. But the zealous male prostitute truly enjoyed his mode of existence.
In order to attract attention, one determined lad boldly interrupted a gathering of man in a large Cairene establishment. Assisted by his older brother, manager and chief mountebank, the youth demanded a coin from each. More amused than insulted, for the presumptuous lad tickled their curiosity, they obliged; and brother mountebank heartily collected. Letting down his bag-trousers, sitting upon a stool and closing his eyes, by apparent conjuration and sheer force of imagination the youth effected almost immediate erection and orgasm, to the amazement of all. But a second later the grinning lad showed each of them a tiny hole in the stool, allowing a titillating finger to touch his anus. Having thus fallen for the deception, each man laughed to tears; the youth was brought into their confidence and clique, and their money flowed into pockets of his brother who, of course, handled the procuring and management.
A boy prostitute was often called nedeem (cup companion). Sharing the company of mature men, he was generally between fifteen and twenty five years of age; hence, the saying: “A boy of twice ten is fit for a King!” Having enjoyed more experience, he was termed gulleh (wide mouthed jug, alluding to his abused podex) whereas a novice was affectionately called dorek (the narrow). El-gulleh frequently dressed in feminine attire, as witness this line of verse referring to the acceptance of wine:
From hand of yarded lad, begarbed like coynted lass: wencher and tribe of Lot alike enamoring.
This was also inverted to form “from hand of coynted lass, begarbed like yarded lad” (alluding to she-catamites).
The most gainful position, next to serving royalty, was attending in the bath (hhemmaum).
Luck to the Rubber, whose deft hands o’erfly a frame much enamored of a plump little troll;
He shows the thaumaturgy of his craft, by inducing the traveler to futter his hole.
Uncouth as it may seem to Western ears, this couplet summed the matter up well. The mokeyyis (rubber or shampooer) as was a guileful tempter taking a weak, inexperienced and dissolute wayfarer high above full price while in the meslekh (stripping room) another rifled the traveler’s clothes.
When entering the hhemmaum, the operator of the bath collected the entrant’s fee and directed him to the stripping room where the leewaunjee (a beardless youth who attends the bather when undressing) came forward, demanded a substantial gratuity and, whilst peeling off the traveler’s garments, made lascivious movements. The fleecing did not end yet; for, preceding the bath, the traveler reclined naked on a mattress, sipped coffee or drew on the water pipe, and said: “Yah mokeyyis! t’auleh keyyisneh (Attendant! come, rub me down). Thereupon, a nude boy, generally well-proportioned, scurried in and commenced to knead, pound, kick, massage, and fondle the wayfarer. In the languor following a hot cleansing, the mokeyyis’s fingers seemed charmed, evoking a voluptuous sensation, and the more expert job he did, especially in retarding orgasm, the greater his reward. Some, less skillful, stroked the muscles in such a precipitous manner that erection and emission were involuntary and almost simultaneous. Such unskilled individuals received only half to a quarter of the sum usually granted for massage that included artful prolongation of pleasure.
Following shampoo, the plump and comely mokeyyis customarily sold his body to the bather for an hour (his specialty being fellatio); whereupon the bather relished another dip in a cooling tank, got dressed, and left.
A wretched Turk is my heart’s desire:
Beardless boys set his bowels afire.
Turkey furnished Georgia with catamites, while Circassia sent concubines into Turkey. The Turks, notorious race of pederasts, were regarded everywhere in the same dingy light by unsympathetic travelers:
They partake of wine until they cannot distinguish between masculine and feminine, and use the rumps of boys as they would the coyntes of women.
Ranking with Alexander, Caesar, and Bonaparte, the eminent and glorious Saladin (Sellah-ed-Deen), Sultan of Egypt and Syria, was like Rome’s greatest emperor “the husband of all women and the wife of all men,” a habitual pederast. Arab historians of the twelfth century cited him as being wise, noble, and courageous, coping with the invading Crusaders with martial prudence but, when it came to fair beardless youths, more salacious than a he-goat. They attributed this to early impotence.
Mosul and El-Yemen, before mentioned, were always locales of unsavory reputation as the nuclei of Middle Eastern homosexuality. A man of propriety and respect dared never to boast that he was from Mosul, lest he face a sarcastic retort:
The foulest and filthiest of a catamite race, whose youth is a scapegrace and whose old age hath wits as the wits of an ass.
As for El-Yemen:
There, the noblest make womanly use of beardless boys; and the meanest of them frequent eunuchs; and the lowest amongst them train baboons to futter; and others are weavers of strumpet’s sheaths.
In China at the age of four, boys were sold and trained into pederasty, a thriving and honourable profession sanctified by Tcheou-Wang, God of Sodomy, and in Japan, where male prostitution was also a consecrated practice, Buddhist monks kept ganymedes and regulated boy brothels for the use of worshipers.
Strange as it may seem, vocational pederasty never tainted Hindooism; none of the sacred texts enjoined or even mentioned it simply because androgynous adoration, sanctifying sodomy, had died an inglorious death in the mists of antiquity. Hence pederasty amid the Aryans in India was often times regarded with amusement or jeered in local abuse:
Butcheh-k’gaundh meyn ungulee-k’hee!
Who fumbled and fingered the little boy’s bum!
Though rare in Hindostan, pederasty was rampant among the peoples of the Punjaub, the Deccan, and Sindh: Sikhs, Hindoo Mussulmans, and Afghans. In Kurrachee, famed for its poggly nautches and bordels of youths and eunuchs, epidemic pederasty (lowndhey-bauzee, boy sport) far outnumbered houses of female prostitution. Dancing boys, painted, scented with saffron water, and bedecked in the finest raiment, paraded through the streets, heatedly soliciting; while in open stalls and palatial residencies naked lads and castratos, perfumed and polished with mustard oil, stood for sale. These boys, choice, delicate, with large rosy buttocks, were affectionately styled mucknas (Hind. mukhnah), tuskless baby elephants, because of their rudimentary genitals (unshorn by the cruel razor). Mukhnah (tailless, hairless, flea-prick) also became a vicious term of jealous reproach since these fastidious youths brought double the price of eunuchs and beardless castratos, simply because their unmutilated scrotums served as bridles to direct movement.
Wullud sureen shuftauloo-maunind duryah,
Ufsose! mun n’shinnah:
There’s a boy across the river with a podex like a peach; but, alas! I cannot swim.
This is the first stanza of a ballad entitled Zukhmee-Dil (Wounded Heart), popular with the Afridi Nation. It was sung by lone hillman and campfire troubadour from one end of the Indus to the other; and Zukhmee Dil became the favorite marching air of the Khyber Rifles at Fort Jumrood.
Zun-e-suffuree (traveling wives) were the essential part of any camel caravan or other company of travelers passing through the forbidding Khyber and into the fertile Punjaub. But these so called “wives,” not only the ideals of Afghan traders but of Pathan troops going forth to battle on the Frontier, were in fact catamites. Hidden from strangers and the evil eye in camel panniers (kejawahs), these youths, ranging in age from five to twenty years, were scented, depilated, rouged hennaed, and adorned with long silken pomaded hair and kohl-rimmed provocative eyes. In a word, no one could have distinguished them from women or girls unless they stripped them of their costly gowns.
When an Afghan’s wife died, she was soon forgotten and her body mouldered in the ravine where it was usually thrown. But when an Afghan lost his catamite his heart was never the same. He mourned the loss like that of a loyal camel or a hardy steed, and burial rites were indeed extravagant and impressive. Woman was only an unattractive drudge, a means of propagating the race; but “ah! the delight in whimsical and flirtatious youth, smooth and comely.”
These zun-e-suffuree, the pride of slavers, were well received in Peshawar, where merchants and noblemen paid several hundred to many thousands of golden ushruffees to bruise the nates of a beardless lad.
There was once a boy or, rather, a youth of exceeding beauty; and he had very many lovers.
This was the tone of venerable Hafiz and Saadi, poets laureate of Persia.
In passion our Sheykh was an Ajemee, with a Catamite ever in company;
In the Love of Woman, a Platonist he, but, in either, versed to the full degree,
And stallion to him was the same as a filly.
From antiquity the Persian was a connoisseur of any sort of amorous glances, but he preferred the love of boys to that of girls. Charming but sinister Sheykh-en-Nezr, Governor of Bushire, was wont to entertain midshipmen of the Bombay Marines, plying them with Shirazee wine till they were insensate. On awaking, the young Englishmen complained of how the wine caused a strange vellication and soreness between their buttocks. Nezr, also a clever wit, loved to entertain his European guests with the adumee-tope (man-cannon). A Negro slave was dragged in and held on all fours, while peppercorns were thrust into his anus. A sheet of parchment served as target; cayenne was applied to the nostrils, the Negro sneezed, and tiny grapeshot erupted full blast. Bets were often placed, and every strike was accounted for.
The Magians (Mujoosee) were the first Parsic pederasts. They, fire-worshiping sorcerers, danced frenziedly in the nude round the flames at midnight, wailing eerie incantations and fornicating among themselves and with boys doomed to evil sacrifice.
With the advent of immaculate Parseeism, pederasty rose from the depths of witchcraft and acquired platonism:
Ul wujood suzaur bosah khoob?
Bulooghut b’now-e-pushm khoob!
What best deserves bussing?
A bobadilla with a young bush!
The last line, altered to Subyeh b’kuss-e-now-e-pushm khoob, referred to a girl with tender vulva and downy pubes.
In Shiraz, an eminent mujtahid (spiritual director of the Sheeah sect) was suddenly approached by one of his colleagues. “There is a question I would fain address to thine Eminence,” he said, hesitant and pensive, “but I lack the daring to do so.”
“Ask, and fear not!”
“Then it is this, O Mujtahid! Figure thee in a garden of roses and hyacinths, with the evening breeze waving the cypress heads, a fair youth of twenty sitting by thy side, and the assurance of perfect privacy. What, prithee, would be the result?”
The theologian grinned, then scowled and, wringing his fists and beating his ears, hastened away. “Almighty God defend me from such temptation!”
When an Isfahanee youth mocked the great Saadi by comparing his bald glossy dome to the bottom of a brass vase, the sagacious bard turned the vase upside down and retaliated by comparing its wide mouth to the youth’s well-abused anus.
Persia, analogous to ancient Greece, knew both philosophic and vicious pederasty. Its pleasures were glorified by both poets and priests. Its popularity ascended from a matter of flagrant custom to that of holy idolatry. Houses of feminine ill fame were entirely unknown but bagnios of boys (butcha-khanas) were an established institution. All early travelers were shocked and surprised and, be they Arab, a trifle humored to discover this peculiarity.
In the butcha-khana, each troupe of dancing boys was bathed, dieted and depilated, to present the desired smooth appearance. Instruction was given them in the arts and sciences of entertainment and coquetry, with careful consideration shown to the posterior. A science in itself was the ability deftly to control the anal sphincter. A lad so skilled in this spasmodic performance, like the woman able to milk the penis with her pubic muscles, commanded double to triple the price of others, provided he retained his bridle like genitories.
The prevalence of boy brothels in Persia diminished, however, when astute fathers began setting their sons up in business and selling their daughters into the whoredom of concubinage. As in the decadence of Greece and Rome, youths from six to twenty solicited and procured a substantial and independent living; and zunkhas (bands of itinerant professional effeminates) were often seen swaying along the roads, arm in arm, and singing in clear, ardent tones:
I am enamoured of a fawn, with languishing black eyes;
The willow branches envy him when he walketh and sighs.
The moisture of his mouth is like melted confection,
And his teeth are as pearls in exquisite connection.
His countenance surpasseth the glorious full moon,
And, ravished by his beauty, I disdain not to swoon.
One traveler to Cabul, a physician from Delhi, described his experiences while attending a private dinner in the home of a wealthy and respectable merchant:
I regarded Afghan delicacies, cockroaches fried in ghee, bullock’s testicles in date-wine sauce, and I knew that surely I must belch for more reasons than being ordinarily courteous. The fruit and the sherbet seemed harmless enough, though they may have been infused with some maddening drug. I chanced looking at the host; and the host, partaking heartily, grinned. I recalled his words: “When a Cabulee presents thee with viands, it is not a common courtesy to offer him some first; ye do so to test its purity from poison.” Notwithstanding, I possessed the strangest feeling that all Afghans took daily of poison to achieve immunity; for everyone appeared out to poison another, and hospitality was merely a shroud for gain.
An eerie resonance swelled from above, the sinuous undulate twang of lute and lyre, and throughout the meal I noticed the feeling, a light-headed sensation, as of a spell gradually overcoming me. Rain cannoned dully outside; there were dim abysmal strains, inebriate scent, uncanny light.
I watched, glassy eyed, as a pubescent lad ambled forward with a huge silver tray. He was strongly Greek (Yoonaunee) in appearance: with blue eyes, yellow locks, and muscular white frame. The host said nothing but regarded him proudly, occasionally glimpsing at myself. The lad was very civil; he stood before me and salaamed. Then, quite unashamedly and as if by habit he drew up his robe to display his nakedness: at which, by inviolate custom, I was obliged to lift my hands in praise. Then, once again bowing, the youth departed with a clearly suggestive glint in his eyes.
“He is a Caffre, from Cafiristan,” the host, a wizened Cabulee, said. “No less than a descendant of the Great Alexander (Iskunder-Dilkhan); I paid enormously for him, and he is progressing well.”
“In what respect, yah Huzoor?” I chanced, hesitatingly.
The host inclined, touching his fingers to his breast. “Indeed, yah Khawind, in helping me to retire from the trading profession at a very early age. In another month, I shall take him before the Ameer of Afghanistan, insane for rare handsome white youths, and, in the month thereafter, thine host must be appointed chief pander to the Court of Cabul.”
He laughed, and I laughed, but he was! And soon thereafter, the fair of Cafiristan were much prized in Cabul; and every one captured was treated with utmost kindness and sold at fabulous sums.
By this it is clearly shown that while the Southern Europeans greatly cherished skilful Oriental prostitutes, the Orientals greatly cherished rosy-cheeked European catamites. White lads were as lily blossoms to them; and in Egypt and Turkey, where memlooks (fair Circassian slaves) and Janissaries (Greco-Christian militia) reigned supreme, white flesh was valued far above rubies.
 The belief that the prohibition against pedication would not apply in paradise, in just the same way that wine was prohibited in this life but promised to believers in paradise, and thus that the beautiful adolescent boys promised to male believers there were for their sexual pleasure was by no means a corruption by the vulgar and ignorant, as Edwardes claims; though never accepted by a leading exegete, it was debated by jurists with some potent arguments made in its favour. See the section “liwāṭ in Paradise?” in Khaled El-Rouayheb’s Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 (Chicago, 2005) for an excellent history of the debate.
 The quote is from Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the tale of “Ali Nur al-Din and Miriam the Girdle Girl” in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (London, 1897) VII p. 6.
 The quote is from Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the tale of “Abu Nowas With the Three Boys and the Caliph Harun al-Rashid” in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, which can be read in this website’s article The poet Abū Nuwās, his Boys and the Caliph.
 The quote is from Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the tale of “The Man’s Dispute with the Learned Woman Concerning the Relative Excellence of Male and Female” in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (London, 1885) V p. 161, Mathers’s translation of which can be read in this website’s article Girls or Boys?
 Apparently a quote from the ninth-century poet Abu Nuwas.
 Burton’s evidence. [Author’s note]
 This probably refers to Sheikh Nasr Al-Madhkur, the Arab governor of the Persian city of Bushire in the late 18th century.