In modern American culture we are familiar with love bites characterized by the neck hickey, a red, discolored spot or bruise resulting from biting or pinching with the mouth. Among young teens the hickey is almost a rite of passage, a badge of honor symbolizing sexual maturity and success at winning a lover. They become a somewhat subtle way of saying “I got laid last night”. Among younger children the hickey is sometimes given without much sexual involvement as something of a love game from their earliest attempts at serious kissing. We have heard of cases of older boys pinching “virginal” girl’s necks (creating a false hickey) to embarrass them before their parents and other youth. Of course kids (especially boys) quickly discover they can fabricate their own false hickeys to win admiration or envy of their peers.
Some gay and bisexual men are aroused by slight bites on the buttocks, the crotch area, the spinchter opening of the anus and the balls (slight nibbling)
Erotic biting has long been a part of serious sexuality. The Kama Sutra devotes an entire chapter to it and like other chapters has a complete taxonomy of forms and styles. “Local customs should be consulted” since the practice varied widely. In some cities the practice was offensive (even dangerous) where in other places it was a honor to one’s lover and even expected. The women of Koshala for example loved violent biting and “dildos are much employed”. The author(s) warned “One should not be led by a state of excitation into performing acts that are considered unfitting”. These practices “if lightly performed, arouse desire and provoke sighs”. Biting and scratching is observed “in all species” and the main goal is excitation prior to copulation. In some women this can produce a true orgasm.
All parts of the body were considered suitable except the upper lip, tongue, and eyes. The forehead, lower lip, neck, cheeks, chest, breasts, sides, crotch, ear, feet, armpits and genitals were favored. Attention to specific erotic zones in the woman was essential. The writer advises that “kiss marks on the ear, as well as scratch marks on the cheeks are considered ornamental”. These ancient lovers of sex also left fingernail marks in conjunction with bites.
The major types of bites are as follows:
Discreet: gentle bite to the lower lip, leaving only short-term redness. Today we might call this a love nip.
Impressed: firm bite to the lower lip or cheeks, leaving lasting redness.
Pointed: a tiny piece of skin is bitten by the teeth and pulled.
Coral Jewel: a spot is squeezed several times between the top teeth and lower lip, leaving a dark rose mark in a jewel shape.
Necklace of Gems: coral jewel (larger) marks left in a line along some part of the body. They were favored along the neck in two lines, down both sides of the torso, or near the sexual organs.
Necklace of Dots: pointed (smaller) marks left in a line or two on the body.
Scattered Cloud: small teeth marks arranged in an irregular pattern (ie. cloud shapes) on the body. Leaving these marks below the breast is mentioned.
Chewing the Wild Boar: Closely spaced bites over a wide area “forming a red center” below the breasts. Due to the swine association this term is best avoided in modern times!
THE FOLLOWING ARE MODERN VARIATIONS NOT FOUND IN THE KAMA SUTRA:
Initialing: bites form the initials of the lover’s name. These variations serve as a type of short duration tattoo and denote a type of “ownership” of the lover’s body.
Symbology: bites form a symbol of a group, gang, or organization. Shape of a heart is also very common in symbol of general love. We have heard of one fraternity who bit females from a sister sorority with a Greek letter.
Circling: bites form a circle around an object such as the naval, nipple, tattoo, piercing, or male glans. The Necklace styles are generally a line rather than a circle and do not ring a specific landmark on the body.
Vampire: two small bites (perhaps Pointed type) on the neck to resemble the two punctures of vampire fangs. This was a Halloween pastime among a group of swinging friends.
The practices of erotic biting varied in their violence according to the type of lover, their tradition, and personality. In some cases the Indian man would bite the woman with a necklace. He/She would return the favor, giving him a necklace “as if she were in anger” or “like a madwoman”. In some cases the hair is grabbed and light bondage is involved. For instance “she bites wherever he had bitten her and rejoices in his efforts to free himself”.
Like scratches these bite marks were considered “a souvenir of sexual relations”. They were also marks of adultery and might serve as legal evidence. Necklaces were considered proof the woman have consented for an extended period of a time with her lover. Recent, visible bite marks also told others that a man or woman had a current lover and might be unavailable. It was also a sort of advertisement of the lover’s erotic skills. If the lover was known others could admire his or her skill in this important erotic artistry or lack thereof. This is why some bites were done on visible places (neck, arms) vs. hidden places (below breasts, pubic area) to be either public or private knowledge. But in our modern beach culture with skimpy outfits few such protections are possible.