A kiss is the act of pressing one's lips against another person or an object. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, peace and good luck, among many others. In some situations a kiss is a ritual, formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect, or sacrament. The word came from Old English cyssan ("to kiss"), in turn from coss ("a kiss").
Among the first known written descriptions of mouth-to-mouth kissing are included in the epic poem, Mahabharata, written 3,000 years ago in ancient India and in the Song of Songs, from the Old Testament:
Philematology, or the study of kissing, has been conducted by people including Cesare Lombroso, Ernest Crawley, Charles Darwin, Edward Burnett Tylor and modern scholars such as Elaine Hatfield. According to the 19th-century anthropologist, Cesare Lombroso, the kiss of lovers originated and evolved from the maternal kiss.
In the early 20th century, the anthropologist Ernest Crawley wrote that kissing is "a universal expression in the social life of the higher civilizations of the feelings of affection, love (sexual, parental, and filial), and veneration," although he subsequently found that "kissing on the lips was not to be found in much of the world." He noted that in Japanese society before the 20th century, there was no kissing "except as applied by a mother to her infant," while in Africa it was commonly observed that neither husbands and wives nor lovers kissed one another.:117 However, kissing of children by their parents and kissing between lovers and married couples was common in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Crawley concludes that, although kissing was prevalent in some form since primitive times, it generally "received its chief development in Western culture.":119 The kiss in Western societies has also been used in various religious and ceremonial acts, and has had a sacramental value.
According to Crawley, touch is "the mother of the senses," and the kiss was a tactile and specialized form of intimate contact.:113 However, he notes that the act of kissing was very rare among cultures in less-developed civilizations, but was "fully established as instinctive" in advanced civilizations. Yet even among advanced civilizations, Crawley saw differences: while the kiss seems to have been unknown to ancient Egypt, it was well established in early Greece, Assyria, and India.:113
Anthropological studies done over the past century show that "kissing was far from universal and even seen as improper by many societies," notes psychology professor Elaine Hatfield. In India, on-screen kissing has been banned by Indian film censors until the 1990s, and in modern Muslim society, a man who kisses or touches a woman who is not his wife or relative can be punished by death.
Kristoffer Nyrop has identified a number of types of kisses, including kisses of love, affection, peace, respect and friendship. He notes, however, that the categories are somewhat contrived and overlapping, and some cultures have more kinds, including the French with twenty and the Germans with thirty.Source: Wikipedia
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