Yesterday I had to run a quick errand to drop a FedEx Envelope at the local Kinko’s. On the way there, I passed by a building in the ‘hood where my office is located and came upon signage for a business on the lobby level of the building (a deli) that left me feeling somewhat intrigued (and slightly horny I must confess).
In the inset photo to the right, notice in the left portion of the image the mustachioed mascot for the deli. By the hat, I’m assuming he’s a chef (and perhaps a wee bit more for that matter). Okay, now if this image is isolated (image left below), a different story begins to unfold. If the image is turned 180º, the background is filled solid and the gentleman’s mustache is rearranged an evermore curious image appears (image in center below). And finally, if this image is compared with another (image on right below), there is an amazing resemblance to an ancient symbol— the winged phallus. According to my friend (and no doubt that of many others) wikipedia, “the winged phallus is a common motif in Roman decorative arts, which can also serve as an apotropaic charm against the evil eye.”1 Big surprise. ‘Cuz we all know what happens when you get a little cum in your eye. Right?
According to the website museumize.com, “The phallus was a popular symbol of fertility. Phallic imagery in public monuments and in ordinary domestic and commercial plaques can be found at different times and places throughout the Greek world. Phallic icons were often placed outside houses, in doorways, walls, boundaries, graves, etc. It was often used as a symbol of protection and warding off evil.”2
While the displaying images of the phallus in such a manner are not so common place in the modern world, the practice does continue today. One such example is the phallus paintings and sculptures that adorn buildings in Bhutan (image on the right). According to Iva Skoh, sex correspondent for globalpost.com, “Bhutanese paint phalluses on their homes to protect their families from evil spirits and to promote fertility. Flying phalluses are also tributes to the adored religious teacher and master of mahamudra Buddhism, Drukpa Kunley, colloquially known as ‘The Divine Madman’ or ‘The Saint of 5,000 Women.’”3
While a still relatively isolated country tourism is beginning to take hold in Bhutan and it seems this may diminish the power of the big P in Bhutan as according to Ms. Skoh, “That’s [tourism is] potentially bad news for penis worship. That’s because some here worry the influx of tourists to this isolated Buddhist oasis is already weakening the essence of Bhutan—namely its relationship with the omnipresent phallus.
The decline of the phallus is especially evident in ‘urban Bhutan,’ a term locals insist is not an oxymoron.
‘Phallus paintings and wood carvings were ubiquitous, like red chilies, all over Bhutan. But now they are fading as Bhutan undergoes prudish self-censorship,’ said Dasho Karma Ura, president of the Centre for Bhutan Studies in Thimphu, the nation’s picturesque capital.
According to Ura, penis depictions diminished in towns where the architecture took new styles as urban dwellers disassociated themselves from earthy symbols. ‘There was a tendency to shy away from the need to confront sexuality in its most transcendent aspiration and practice,’ he said.” 4
I for one find this very sad. Perhaps the Buthanese need to take it on the DL like the deli owner near my office?
Food for thought anyway…