Cultural Methods: How People Kissed


Do you smell each other or kiss?

The second hypothesis looks down the nose. Therefore, the kiss on the lips was created by its relative, the smelling or sniffing kiss. In many early cultures, people greeted each other by rubbing noses or placing their hands on each other’s cheeks and breathing deeply. Similar customs still exist among the Maori, Yakuts of Siberia, China, Lapland and among the Inuit of Canada. who, by the way, do not give a “priest” by rubbing their nosesbut by pressing his nose against his colleagues’ skin and taking in a deep breath. Cultural scientist Ingelore Ebberfeld (1952-2020) saw a close connection between olfaction and sexuality, the origin of nose-to-lip kisses: “Sniffing in mammals, which most honors reproduction, actually points to one of the real reasons for kissing.”

© Luisa Ricciarini / Leemage / Photo Alliance (more)

kissing couple | In the so-called House of Chaste Lovers in Pompeii, a wall painting depicts a drinking couple. Apparently the couple is kissing.

Researcher and writer Sheril Kirshenbaum, who published a non-fiction book about kissing, offers a third explanation: the lip kiss, Kirshenbaum writes, may have arisen from a connection between the ability to see color, sexual desire, and the evolution of the human lips. The latter would have two distinct features: unlike animals, they are curved outwards and their color is bright. The human brain is evolutionarily designed to perceive the color red quickly, like detecting ripe fruit.

But red is also a sign of sexuality: for example, female bonobos show it red swelling of the buttocks indicates readiness for pregnancy enabled. “The most likely scenario is that when our ancestors were standing upright, their bodies underwent many related changes. It also involves a change in distinctive sexual signals,” Kirshenbaum suspects.

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The oldest known kiss comes from India

The first historical sources documenting kisses date back to around 3500 years ago. Around 1500 BC, Vedic Sanskrit texts from India describe smelling with the mouth. Some researchers believe that this may refer to a kiss. Clearer references can be found in the Hindu Satapatha Brahmana: in it, lovers put mouth to mouth. A gentle kiss on the lips is described in the famous Hindu epic Mahabharata, which was probably first written between 400 B.C. and 400 years

“The whole neighborhood kisses you… That alone wasn’t worth coming back to.”Martial, Roman poet, 1st century AD

The custom of kissing was not limited to India. “Take the Enuma Elish, the story of the creation of Babylonia, the text of which is found on stone tablets in the 7th century. Before Christ. Although the legends behind it are much, much older,” explains Kirshenbaum. “There are references to several kisses in this creation story, including a greeting kiss.

In ancient times, this custom was more common, like a man kissing a woman or a man kissing a man, as Greek vase paintings show. Homer describes this in his Iliad and Odyssey. And the Greek historian Herodotus from the 5th century BC. describes how Persians kissed differently depending on a person’s status. He also reports that the Egyptians allegedly refused to kiss the Greeks on the mouth because they ate cows, an animal sacred to the Egyptians.

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