Great Literature Of The 20th Century: The Pop-Up Karma Sutra

Special guest Anne-Marie Peard pops up to talk dirty in this week’s Great Literature review… Beware, this article may not be suitable for minors, viewing at work, or people who don’t like Are You Being Served?


Sting does it, Annie Sprinkle won’t do it any other way, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood summarised it in one word – relax. It’s tantric sex week at the Institute. Sit cross-legged, breath deeply and feel the energy of the universe flowing through your chakras.

There are many long and complicated books based on the ancient Sanskrit text known as the Karma Sutra. Indian scholar Vatsyayana wrote the original, but the Institute considers this 1984 version by Bob Robinson and Jonathan Biggs to be the definitive version.

Even a quick glance though the yoni shaped window on the cover reveals the essence of tantric sexuality, as within the all-embracing yoni lies a lingam shaped window. Why Play School never adopted these window shapes, I’ll never know. It also seems to reveal a polygamist, and there’s another little lingam within the lingam window. Look at the little lingam…

If you’re not fluent in Sanskrit and need help with translation, here are some pictures that should help.

This is a lingam.


This is a yoni.


This is a lingam and a yoni at a swinger party.


This is a lingam with a drag queen.


So why is this Tantra stuff so popular? To cite the pop-up book, it’s all about staying happy as a couple. It’s worth breaking out the candles and sacred shag carpet because “the chief reason for the separation between the married couple is the want of varied pleasures and the monotony which follows possession”.

There is a clear heteronormative bias to the publication, but it wouldn’t take more than a pair of scissors and some sticky tape to re-arrange the pop-up figures to the couplings of your choice. There are only four detailed double page pop-up spreads in the book, and only one (non-pop-up) page of instruction. So before any serious picture gazing can take place, readers may wish to know how Vatsyayana would classify them.

“Men is (sic) divided into three classes, viz, the hare man, the bull man, and the horse man, according to the size of his lingam. Women also, according to the depth of her yoni is either a female deer, a mare, or a female elephant”.

There’s actually a lot about animals in the education page. For instance, as well as “the congress of a dog”, there’s “the congress of a deer, the forcible mounting of an ass, the jump of a tiger, the pressing of an elephant, the rubbing of a boar, and the mounting of a horse”.

And there’s to be no more “Oh Gods” uttered amongst the sheets – apparently it’s far more appropriate to express the sounds of a dove, cuckoo, green pigeon, parrot, bee, sparrow, flamingo, duck or quail.

Ok, that’s enough from the text. It’s time to look at a picture. This is the final page – it takes a lot of practice to reach this advanced level.


The detail throughout The Pop Up Karma Sutra is exquisitely tacky, with tongue shaped leaves, background animals joining in the fun, and an abundance of joyous yoni, lingam and mutli-breasted imagery.


Dogs demonstrating the congress of the dog.


And here are some elephants doing it among the tongue trees.


Finally, for those who like to play along at home, here are some handy pop-up hints. Do let us know if any of them work for you (although we don’t want to know how you obtain a winding sheet of a corpse…).



– Anne-Marie Peard

Previous entries in Great Literature Of The 20th Century:

Passport To Survival

The Doctor Who Cookbook (plus further reading)

Spotlight On Australia

Sweet Valley High: Kiss Of A Killer

The Frankie Goes To Hollywood Annual 1985

11 Responses to Great Literature Of The 20th Century: The Pop-Up Karma Sutra

  1. outlandinstitute says:

    Thanks Anne-Marie! I asked Anne-Marie if the pop-up Karma Sutra had any moving bits – can you pull a tab to make a lingam go into a yoni?

    She emailed back with “Sadly there are no pull tabs – ‘cos that might make it tacky”.

    How true, how true.

  2. Dan Cardone says:

    That last excerpt is terrifying. Without wanting to reveal too much of my personal life, have you ever had someone go down on you who has just eaten a curry? So very very wrong for so many reasons. So my advice is to say no to black pepper, long pepper and especially wasp stings…

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    Dan – that seems to have left everyone speechless. And possibly stopped one or two people making curry…

    It makes the Dr Who Cauliflower cheese recipe look almost appealing in contrast though.

  4. Cameron says:

    I learnt a lot from the Korma Sutra. And they call it curry love…

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    I think one uses a naan and the other a plate of pappadams

  6. Narrelle says:

    I can’t help thinking the application of honey and pepper will devastate the poor man’s penis long before it devastates his lady. There’s nothing that kills the mood quite like a trip to the emergency department with a hard-to-explain genital injury.

  7. Anne-Marie says:

    OR, it could be like the Dr Who recipes? Everyone thought the evil cauli was going to be hideous, yet I some ADVENTEROUS SOULS were brave enough to try it and declared it not half bad! Perhaps there is wisdom in this ancient text that contemporary cynicism is overlooking.

    Surely by now someone has simmered a ram or goat testicle in some honey-sweetened milk.

  8. Dave AA says:

    It was only after I’d finished rubbing hot chillies and wasp stings into my genitals that I realised I’d forgotten to grind the peacock bone and monkey turd. Boy did I feel a fool…

  9. outlandinstitute says:

    But did it still work? Sometimes a mis-made pumpkin soup can make an excellent cheese sauce…

  10. ken says:

    I do not think that you are right about Relax, the song of Frankie goes to Hollywood, had anything to do with Tantric sex, quit the opposite, in fact. On the sleve of the 12″ single FGTH had printed a paragraf about toilet-sex!

    Danish Man

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