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three pairs of lovers with space



The regions into which the world has been divided for exploration of the history of Greek love have coincidences of geography and culture that have enabled useful generalisations, but India and Central Asia is an exception, its lands having nothing particular in common from the point of view of the practise of pederasty.

This is mostly due to religious differences. Being Islamic, Central Asia and Moslem India had much in common with the Near East and North Africa, except that pederasty in them seems to have been more deeply entrenched, more so in the twentieth century than any other part of the world. By contrast, Hindu India seems always to have been quite antagonistic to it, resulting in an exceptionally poor pederastic history, even though Hinduism did not condemn pedication as harshly as did Islam and Christianity.  Buddhist Ceylon had more in common with South East Asia than India from the point of view of Greek love:  it appears to have been well tolerated until British influence became effective, without ever becoming institutionalised.



India and Central Asia in 1949

The Baburnama, the autobiography of Babur, the Central Asian conqueror who went on in 1526 to become the first Mughal Emperor in India, includes a description of his falling in love with a boy as well as an assortment of character sketches of others including critical comments about their indulging in pederasty.  These illustrate the popularity of Greek love among the great of the region, despite their large harems. Babur's implied views that there was nothing wrong with being in love with boys, but that habitual sex with them was a vice, were quite common amongst pre-modern Moslems.

Notes of a Journey in Turkistan, 1873 is American explorer and diplomat Eugene Schuyler's descriptions of dancing-boys and buying slave-boys in newly-conquered Russian Turkistan and the adjoining emirate of Bukhara.



In The Jewel in the Lotus (1959), the oriental scholar Allen Edwardes gives lively descriptions of the popularity of Greek love among Afghan men, whom he describes as caring far more for their boys than their wives. It remained ubiquitous there late in the twentieth century, as described by Drew and Drake in a section of their Boys for Sale (1969) also concerning neighbouring Bukhara. 

Exploring the villages of Kafiristan in 1932, Alain Daniélou described hospitality towards the two local soldiers who accompanied him:

The people seemed quite hospitable. For the soldiers' comfort, they would carry a bed, made of braided cord, to the middle of the village, with a blanket and a young boy. A soldier and the boy went upon the bed, the blanket covered them, there were the well-known movements, and after a while it was the turn of the next soldier.[1]

Greek love was never seriously challenged in Afghanistan until the puritanical Taliban took power in 1996. It precariously survived both them and the country's even more hostile American conquerors of 2001, as was reported by several foreign journalists who followed in their wake.  Even attempting to understand Greek love was taboo in the English-speaking world by this date, so their reports raised the subject as part of an attack on Afghan culture, rather than to enlighten their readers about it. However, the author of "Kandahar Journal; Shh, It's an Open Secret: Warlords and Pedophilia Journal", published in The New York Times in 2002, while holding the usual 21st-century misconceptions (what he described having nothing to do with the pedophilia of his title, for example) had the strangely unfashionable idea of actually asking a boy about his love affair with a man, as if his thoughts about it mattered. Meanwhile The Times of London published an account whose jaundice was unleavened by such risky innovation, but adds a little background information: "Homosexual Customs Return to Kandahar" is a slightly variant version of this. A little balance and criticism of the two foregoing articles was soon afterwards offered by the Washington Blade with its article "Pederasty isn’t Greek to post-Taliban Afghans". The slight insight these three articles between them give into pederasty being practised with an openness no longer possible in other parts of the world is so rare for this late date that they are being reproduced here as a unique exception to this website's unwillingness to explore the history of Greek love after the last beacons of hope for it were snuffed out in the penultimate decade of the twentieth century.

While the American conquest opened the door to well-funded foreign do-gooders who looked bound in the end to succeed in imposing their morality on Afghanistan, in the short-term, exposure of customs so revolting to English-speaking peoples was a two-edged sword for the occupiers, since, embarrassingly, it was their non-fundamentalist Afghan followers who were the greatest afficionados of Greek love. During the battle of Tora Bora, foreign journalists observed trucks full of painted boys of around thirteen moved to and from the front for the entertainment of the Afghan troops fighting on the American side, but apparently maintained a stony silence about it in their reports.[2]



In The Boyhood of Tashi Tsering, Lhasa ca. 1943-9, the author describes the sexual liaisons between monks and boys, including his own as a boy, that were ubiquitous and accepted so long as they did not violate Buddhist tenets by including penetration.

The anthropologist Prince Peter of Greece visited the Tibetan-inhabited areas of India in 1938 and 1949-57 for his Study of Polyandry (The Hague, 1963), in which (pp. 457-8) he said about homosexuality there:

On the question of homosexuality, I gathered from Lobsang P’hüntsok that there were “men who did not like women” as he put it, but more than that he would not say. The monasteries in Tibet proper have, however, a very strong reputation for male homosexuality, and jokes about master-novice relations are often made along these lines. George N. Patterson assured me in Kham, interviewing patients medically in the course of his work, that he was often called upon to treat monks for venereal disease of the anus, fistulas and other ailments, which were admittedly the result of homosexual contact, and which the people who came to him for medicine made no attempt to dissimulate.



The Jewel in the Lotus by Allen Edwardes includes a brief general survey of Greek love in India, describing its absence from known Hindu tradition and practice, but its prevalence amongst Moslems and Sikhs.

A New Account of East India and Persia by the English traveller John Fryer mentions the prevalence of pederasty in the 1670s in Moslem Surat and amongst fakirs.

Three valuable accounts have been written about the Paidikion, British army Captain Kenneth Searight's compilation of pederastic writings, which included an immensely detailed list of his many erotic encounters with boys from 1897 to 1917, mostly in India.  The first was Paidikion: A Paiderastic Manuscript by Toby Hammond.

The English journalist and boy-lover Michael Davidson was sent by The Observer to report on the newly dismembered and independent parts of British India. Writing in his memoir about what really interested him in them, he had this to say about his stay in India in 1948:

I moved to Maiden's Hotel in Old Delhi; not far from the Red Fort and the great dusty maidan where lay, eyes craving for alms, the living skeletons of the starving, taking an awful long time to die; and where the massage-boys looked for clients, ready to pound and knead their muscles on the spot.

Like most Indian hotels, Maiden's had in the compound detached annexes where one lived behind one's own front door. A few minutes after my luggage had been carried into mine, a sweet-faced Hindu youth came lithely in and said: 'Me Peter, me your private bearer.' 'Oh?' I said. 'D'you belong to the hotel?' 'No, no,' he replied decidedly, 'me your private bearer': and turned on the hot water in the bathroom, opened my bags and started unpacking, berated the hotel bearer for not bringing me towels, and took charge of me and my belongings. 'You want chumpi?' he said. 'Me very good massage-boy.' And so, having hired me, so to speak, to be his 'master' without my having much say in the matter, Peter remained my faithful and beloved private bearer for the next six months; and when I had to fly to Burma we both wept in the street where I caught the airport bus. It wasn't till long after that I learned he had a wife and two babies; he was about 17.

He also described a poignant erotic encounter with a boy in Lahore in the newly independent Pakistan in 1949 in his other memoir Some Boys.

The explorer and anthropologist Fosco Maraini described the boy-love culture pervasive in the Pashtun area of northern Pakistan in his Where Four Worlds Meet. Hindu Kush 1959.

In The Slave Trade Today (1961), sensationalist journalist Sean O'Callaghan briefly described the then-current prostitution of slave-boys in Bombay.

India and Pakistan in Boys for Sale is Drew and Drake's chapter on the sub-continent in their 1969 study of global boy prostitution, mostly concerned with the enduring scenes.

A Canadian in Central Asia is mostly about the experiences with boys of 12 to 14 of a man working in Pakistan in the 1970s.



For the expanded English edition of his Untrodden Fields of Anthropology, in 1897 Dr. Jacobus X. received brief notes from a “Scotch doctor” living in Ceylon, including the following snippets:

Modes of Copulation and other Esoteric Habits among Tamils, Malabar and Coolies in Ceylon:
[…] Pederasty or Sodomy is not allowed by the women, but may be done by the men to boys, if no women are at hand. [3]

Further notes:
[…] Cases of sodomy or pederasty are rare in Ceylon among Pamils [sic][4] and Cinghalese except among S. Indian Chetties and Mohammedan traders, who are reported to practise sodomy on goats, cows, and very rarely on boys.[5]

The Tragedy of Sir Hector Macdonald is the story told by Cambridge Professor Ronald Hyam of the downfall of a British general and national hero over Greek love affairs in Ceylon in 1903.

In their Boys for Sale (1969), Drew and Drake had only this to say about boy prostitution in Ceylon:

Ceylon has traditionally been a favorite visiting place for tourists in search of boy prostitutes. Roger Peyrefitte tells in his Exile of Capri how Count Fersen found that certain hotels in Ceylon always had “available” boy employees. Ceylonese boys have made willing servants — sexual and otherwise — of many others since Count Fersen. Their prices have been low and, despite their dark color, many Europeans find them more erotic than the yellow or golden-brown boys further east in Asia.

Ceylonese boys are docile and obedient. They are anxious to please, but not as eagerly erotic as elsewhere. Nor are they as photogenic as boys in some other Asian countries despite their complete willingness to pose for obscene pictures.

Sri Lanka in 1979 is an article from the first issue of Pan magazine describing the Greek love culture there.

Culture clash in Sri Lanka, 1981 is a letter to Pan magazine by a witness to how shocked and mesmerised some foreign tourists were by their first view of local boys offering themselves.


[1] Alain Daniélou, Le chemin du labyrinthe, Paris: Laffont, 1981, p. 92.

[2] Recounted to the present editor in January 2008 by a Reuters journalist who had been there.

[3] Notes sent with a letter from a Dr. of Edinburgh University dated 9 August 1897 in Untrodden Fields of Anthropology: Observations on the Esoteric Manners and Customs of Semi-civilised Peoples, Being a Record by a French-Army Surgeon of Thirty Years’ Experience in Asia, Africa, America and Oceania (Paris, 1898) I 93-95.

[4] The author has just explained that “The Malabar Tamil coolies … are emigrants from S. India.”

[5] Untrodden Fields of Anthropology: Observations on the Esoteric Manners and Customs of Semi-civilised Peoples, Being a Record by a French-Army Surgeon of Thirty Years’ Experience in Asia, Africa, America and Oceania (Paris, 1898) II 364-5.




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