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The Perfumed Garden (Arabic: الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر‎) by Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi is a 15th-century Arabic sex manual and work of erotic literature. The full title of the book is The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight (al-rawd al-'âtir fî nuzhat al-khâtir).

The book presents opinions on what qualities men and women should have to be attractive, gives advice on sexual technique, warnings about sexual health, and recipes to remedy sexual maladies. It gives lists of names for the penis and vagina, has a section on the interpretation of dreams, and briefly describes sex among animals. Interspersed with these there are a number of stories which are intended to give context and amusement.



According to the introduction of Coville's English translation, Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi probably wrote The Perfumed Garden sometime between 1410 and 1434.


1850: Baron R... translation

The first translation of The Perfumed Garden into a European language was in 1850, into French, by a man calling himself only "Baron R...".

1886: Burton English translation

The book first became widely known in the English speaking world through a translation from the French in 1886 by Sir Richard Francis Burton. The Arabic manuscript that Burton translated from was one printed by Isadore Liseux in 1886. This manuscript's last chapter, twenty one, was incomplete, apparently because it concerned homosexuality and pederasty. When Burton died towards the end of 1890, he was working on a new translation of the original manuscript, including the excised chapter. This translation, due to be called "The Scented Garden" was never published as Burton's wife Isabel burned the manuscript soon after his death.

Burton mentions that he considers that The Perfumed Garden can be compared with the works of Aretin and Rabelais, of the book Conjugal Love. But what he believes makes The Perfumed Garden unique as a book of its kind is "the seriousness with which the most lascivious and obscene matters are presented."

Burton points out that not all of the ideas in The Perfumed Garden are original: "For instance, all the record of Moçama and of Chedja is taken from the work of Mohammed ben Djerir el Taberi; the description of the different positions for coition, as well as the movements applicable to them, are borrowed from Indian works; finally, the book Birds and Flowers by Azeddine el Mocadecci seems to have been consulted with respect to the interpretation of dreams."

1976: Khawam French translation

A new French translation by René R. Khawam was published in 1976.

1999: Colville English translation

In 1999, Jim Colville published the first English The Perfumed Garden translated directly from the Arabic original. Of the Burton translation, he says, "details were expanded, episodes introduced and whole sections incorporated from other, non-Arabic, sources. The text is dressed up in a florid prose alien to the style of the original and many of the notes are sheer speculation. The result is a consistently exaggerated and bizarre misrepresentation of the original".

Exaggeration on the part of Burton is vividly illustrated in Chapter 6, titled "Sexual Technique" in Colville's translation and "Concerning Everything That Is Favourable to the Act of Coition" in Burton's. Burton's translation is perhaps 25 pages long, lists 39 sex positions as well as 6 types of sexual movement, and gives creative names to many of these. Colville's translation is 2½ pages long, and lists eleven unnamed sex positions.

Inspiration for musical works

In 1923 the English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji wrote Le jardin parfumé: Poem for Piano Solo.

See also


  • The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight, Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi, translated by Jim Coville, 1999, Kegan Paul International, ISBN 0-7103-0644-X, 82 pages.
  • La prairie parfumée ou s'ébattent les plaisirs, Umar Ibn Muhammad Nafzawi [sic], translated by Rene R. Khawam, 1976, ISBN 2-85940-005-2.
  • The Perfumed Garden, Shaykh Nefwazi [sic], translated by Sir Richard Francis Burton, 1886. Many reprintings including:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Perfumed Garden article)

From Wikisource

The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight
by Muhammad al-Nafzawi, translated by Richard Francis Burton
The Perfumed Garden (الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر) is a 15th century Islamic sex manual, similar to the Hindu Kama Sutra. This translation is written by Sir Richard Burton, which was published in 1886. The full title of the book is The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight (al-rawd al-'âtir fî nuzhati'l khâtir). It is believed to have been written between 1410 and 1434.
PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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