Love Pearls-A Story of Discovery-Part 2
What Are Love Pearls Exactly?
The technical term for "Love Pearls" is "Genital Beads". They are also called "Penile Implants" or in medical terms "Artificial Penile Implant Nodules".
Genital Beads are round spherical balls that are made in a variety of sizes and can be constructed from many different of materials, including titanium, gold, silver, jade, precious stones, pearls, glass, plastic polymers, stainless steel and ceramic products. ( Cohen EL, Kim SW. Subcutaneous artificial penile nodules. British Journal of Urology 1982; 127:135)
Genital Beads have also been known to be constructed from ivory, tin and individual grains of rice
What is Genital Beading? aka "Love Pearling"?
Genital beading is "a process of body modification which involves the implantation of beads under the subcutaneous tissue of the penis" leading to "a condition best defined as artificial penile modules". (Nitidandhaprabhas P, 1975, Artificial Penile Nodules: Case Reports from Thailand: British Journal of Urology: 47:4: 463-463)
In other terms, Genital beading involves implanting beads just under the skin tissue along the shaft of the penis. These beads may be implanted by themselves alone or along with many others to create different patterns on the penis shaft.
Historical Narratives of Love Pearls
The earliest written records of "Love Pearling" come from the writings of the Chinese Muslim scholar Ma Huan 馬歡, who accompanied Admiral Zheng He on his voyages to the Western Oceans between 1405-1433 during the Ming Dynasty. Ma Huan travelled on three of the seven naval expeditions and took notes about the people geography, socio-economics, and the traditions and customs of the lands visited.
In 1451 he published an account of his travels titled "The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores" where he described the practices of love pearling of the local Dai people (now in present day PRC, Thailand, and Laos) which were originally performed as rituals celebrating age or class status.
"...when a man reached his twentieth year they take the skin on his membrum virile and with a fine knife and open it up and insert a dozen tin beads inside the skin....they close it up using medicinal herbs so that it resembles a cluster of grapes....."
"...If it is a King or Chief or wealthy man, they use gold to make hollow beads wherein they place a grain of rice inside.....this makes a tinkling sound and is regarded as very beautiful...."
(Ma. H , The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores 1433, 1451, translated by J.V.G. Mills, London 1970)
From the late 16th Century onwards the practice of Love Pearling spread from South East Asia to China proper and from China proper towards Korea and eventually Japan. By the 21st Century the practice of Love Pearling became firmly established across South and North-East Asia. However its original ceremonial and class meanings became removed from its practice, which has evolved into one largely used for its aphrodisiac value. (Sun Laichena; Burmese bells and Chinese eroticism: Southeast Asia's cultural influence on China, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (2007), 38:247-273 Cambridge University Press)
Today, Love Pearls are used across the Asia Pacific region, from Indonesia to Vietnam, to Phillipines, from PRC and Taiwan to Korea and Japan, through to Burma, Laos and Thailand.