Sunday, July 25, 2010

The kiss

The kiss, 1859, Francesco hayez (1791-1882), 110x88cm, oil on canvas.

The First Kiss

artist: William-Adolphe Bouguereau
tittle: Amor and Psyche, Children
1890, oil on canvas, 119,5cmx71cm, known as The first kiss


The word came from Old English cyssan "to kiss", in turn from coss "a kiss". The act of kissing has become a common expression of affection among many cultures worldwide. Yet in certain cultures, kissing was introduced only through European settlement; prior to this, kissing was not a routine occurrence. Examples of this include certain indigenous peoples of Australia, the Tahitians, and many tribes in Africa. Kissing is a physical expression of deep affection or love between two people, in which the sensations of touch, taste, and smell are involved. According to psychologist Menachem Brayer, although many "mammals, birds, and insects exchange caresses" which appear to be kisses of affection, i.e. "love birds," they are not kisses as humans consider them. Psychologist William Cane notes that kissing in Western society is most often a romantic act and describes a few of its attributes:

Kissing in Western cultures is a fairly recent development and is rarely mentioned even in Greek literature. In the Middle Ages it was considered a sign of refinement of the upper classes. Other cultures have different definitions and uses of kissing, notes Brayer. In China, for example, a similar expression of affection consists of rubbing one's nose against the cheek of another person. In other Eastern cultures kissing is not commonly done. In South East Asian countries the 'sniff kiss' is the most common form of affection and Western mouth to mouth kissing is reserved for sexual foreplay. In some tribal cultures the "equivalent for our 'kiss me' is 'smell me.'" However, in Africa people are not familiar with kissing, as is also the case with Malays, indigenous Australians, and many other tribes.

It's not hard to tell when two people are in love. Maybe they're trying to hide it from the world, still they cannot conceal their inner excitement. Men will give themselves away by a certain excited trembling in the muscles of the lower jaw upon seeing their beloved. Women will often turn pale immediately of seeing their lover and then get slightly red in the face as their sweetheart draws near. . . . This is the effect of physical closeness upon two people who are in love.