The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, tr. by Richard Burton, , at sacred-texts.com
WHEN love becomes intense, pressing with the nails or scratching the body with them is practised, and it is done on the following occasions: on the first visit; at the time of setting out on a journey; on the return from a journey; at the time when an angry lover is reconciled; and lastly when the woman is intoxicated.
But pressing with the nails is not a usual thing except with those who are intensely passionate, i.e. full of passion. It is employed, together with biting, by those to whom the practice is agreeable.
Pressing with the nails is of the eight following kinds, according to the forms of the marks which are produced:
The places that are to be pressed with the nails are as follows: the arm pit, the throat, the breasts, the lips, the jaghana, or middle parts of the body, and the thighs. But Suvarnanabha is of opinion that when the impetuosity of passion is excessive, the places need not be considered.
The qualities of good nails are that they should be bright, well set, clean, entire, convex, soft, and glossy in appearance. Nails are of three kinds according to their size:
Large nails, which give grace to the hands, and attract the hearts of women from their appearance, are possessed by the Bengalees.
Small nails, which can be used in various ways, and are to be applied only with the object of giving pleasure, are possessed by the people of the southern districts.
Middling nails, which contain the properties of both the above kinds, belong to the people of the Maharashtra.
When a person presses the chin, the breasts, the lower lip, or the jaghana of another so softly that no scratch or mark is left, but only the hair on the body becomes erect from the touch of the nails, and the nails themselves make a sound, it is called a 'sounding or pressing with the nails'.
This pressing is used in the case of a young girl when her lover shampoos her, scratches her head, and wants to trouble or frighten her.
The curved mark with the nails, which is impressed on the neck and the breasts, is called the 'half moon'.
When the half moons are impressed opposite to each other, it is called a 'circle'. This mark with the nails is generally made on the navel, the small cavities about the buttocks, and on the joints of the thigh.
A mark in the form of a small line, and which can be made on any part of the body, is called a 'line'.
This same line, when it is curved, and made on the breast, is called a 'tiger's nail'.
When a curved mark is made on the breast by means of the five nails, it is called a 'peacock's foot'. This mark is made with the object of being praised, for it requires a great deal of skill to make it properly.
When five marks with the nails are made close to one another near the nipple of the breast, it is called 'the jump of a hare'.
A mark made on the breast or on the hips in the form of a leaf of the blue lotus is called the 'leaf of a blue lotus'.
When a person is going on a journey, and makes a mark on the thighs, or on the breast, it is called a 'token of remembrance'. On such an occasion three or four lines are impressed close to one another with the nails.
Here ends the marking with the nails. Marks of other kinds than the above may also be made with the nails, for the ancient authors say that, as there are innumerable degrees of skill among men (the practice of this art being known to all), so there are innumerable ways of making these marks. And as pressing or marking with the nails is independent of love, no one can say with certainty how many different kinds of marks with the nails do actually exist. The reason of this is, Vatsyayana says, that as variety is necessary in love, so love is to be Produced by means of variety. It is on this account that courtesans, who are well acquainted with various ways and means, become so desirable, for if variety is sought in all the arts and amusements, such as archery and others, how much more should it be sought after in the present case.
The marks of the nails should not be made on married women, but particular kinds of marks may be made on their private parts for the remembrance and increase of love.
There are also some verses on the subject, as follows:
'The love of a woman who sees the marks of nails on the private parts of her body, even though they are old and almost worn out, becomes again fresh and new. If there be no marks of nails to remind a person of the passages of love, then love is lessened in the same way as when no union takes place for a long time.'
Even when a stranger sees at a distance a young woman with the marks of nails on her breast, 1 he is filled with love and respect for her.
A man, also, who carries the marks of nails and teeth on some parts of his body, influences the mind of a woman, even though it be ever so firm. In short, nothing tends to increase love so much as the effects of marking with the nails, and biting.
1 From this it would appear that in ancient times the breasts of women were not covered, and this is seen in the paintings of the Ajunta and other caves, where we find that the breasts of even royal ladies and others are exposed.