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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ancient carving of Min, the Egyptian god of fertility.

A phallus is an erect penis, or anything intended or taken to suggest one.


In art

Phallic-Head Plate, Gubbio, Italy, 1536

Ancient and modern sculptures of phalluses have been found in many parts of the world, notably among the vestiges of ancient Greece and Rome. See also the Most Phallic Building contest for modern examples of phallic designs. In many ancient cultures, phallic structures symbolized wellness and good health.

The Hohle phallus, a 28,000-year-old siltstone phallus discovered in the Hohle Fels cave and first assembled in 2005, is among the oldest phallic representations known.[1]



In Neolithic some clay representation, are linked with a phallic ritual.

Phallus representation Cucuteni Culture 3000 BC

Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians related the cult of phallus with Osiris. When Osiris' body was cut in 13 pieces, Seth scattered them all over Egypt and his wife Isis retrieved all of them except one, his penis, which was swallowed by a fish (see the Legend of Osiris and Isis).

The phallus was a symbol of fertility, and the god Min was often depicted ithyphallic (with a penis).

Ancient Greece

In traditional Greek mythology, Hermes, god of boundaries and exchange (popularly the messenger god) is considered to be a phallic deity by association with representations of him on herms (pillars) featuring a phallus. There is no scholarly consensus on this depiction and it would be speculation to consider Hermes a type of fertility god. Pan, son of Hermes, was often depicted as having an exaggerated erect phallus.

Priapus is a Greek god of fertility whose symbol was an exaggerated phallus. The son of Aphrodite and either Dionysus or Adonis, according to different forms of the original myth, he is the protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, and male genitalia. His name is the origin of the medical term priapism.

The city of Tyrnavos in Greece holds an annual Phallus festival, a traditional phallcloric event on the first days of Lent.[2]


The Mara Kannon Shrine (麻羅観音) in Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture is one of many fertility shrines in Japan that still exist today. Also present in festivals such as the Danjiri Matsuri (だんじり祭)[3] in Kishiwada, Osaka prefecture and the Kanamara Matsuri, in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture though historically phallus adoration was more widespread.

Ancient Rome

Husavik Phallusmuseum, Húsavík

Ancient Scandinavia

  • The Norse god Freyr is a phallic deity, representing male fertility and love.
  • The short story Völsa þáttr describes a family of Norwegians worshiping a preserved horse penis.


The bear on the arms of Portein, Switzerland has a clearly visible red phallus, in accordance with the long-held tradition
Penis costume at a 2005 parade. San Francisco, United States.

Kuker is a divinity personifying fecundity, sometimes in Bulgaria and Serbia it is a plural divinity. In Bulgaria, a ritual spectacle of spring (a sort of carnival performed by Kukeri) takes place after a scenario of folk theatre, in which Kuker's role is interpreted by a man attired in a sheep- or goat-pelt, wearing a horned mask and girded with a large wooden phallus. During the ritual, various physiological acts are interpreted, including the sexual act, as a symbol of the god's sacred marriage, while the symbolical wife, appearing pregnant, mimes the pains of giving birth. This ritual inaugurates the labours of the fields (ploughing, sowing) and is carried out with the participation of numerous allegorical personages, among which is the Emperor and his entourage.[4]


In Switzerland, heraldic bears occurring on various coats of arms had to be painted with bright red penises, or be mocked as being she-bears. The omission of this led to a war in 1579 between St. Gallen and the canton of Appenzell.[5] (See Bears in heraldry).

The Americas

Figures of Kokopelli and Itzamna (as the Mayan tonsured maize god) in Pre-Columbian America often include phallic content. Additionally, over forty large monolithic sculptures (Xkeptunich) have been documented from Terminal Classic Maya sites with the majority of examples occurring in the Puuc region of Yucatan (Amrhein 2001). Uxmal has the largest collection with eleven sculptures now housed under a protective roof on site. The largest sculpture was recorded at Almuchil measuring more than 320 cm high with a diameter at the base of the shaft measuring 44 cm[6]

The Philippines

Phallic Ash Trays from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines.

In the Northern Philippines, one can easily buy products like phallic ash trays and man in a barrel'.

Modern use of the phallus

The phallus is often used to advertise pornography, as well as the sale of contraception. It has often been used in provocative practical jokes[7] and has been the central focus of adult-audience performances.[8]

The phallus has a new set of art interpretations in the 20th Century with the rise of Sigmund Freud, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. One example is "Princess X"[9] by the Romanian modernist sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi. He created a scandal in the Salon in 1919 when he represented or caricatured Princess Marie Bonaparte as a large gleaming bronze phallus. This phallus likely symbolizes Bonaparte's obsession with the penis and her lifelong quest to achieve vaginal orgasm.[10]


The Hindu God Shiva is also sometimes revered in phallic shape(Shivling).


  1. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2005-07-25). "Ancient phallus unearthed in cave". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-07-08. 
  2. ^ The Annual Phallus Festival in Greece, Der Spiegel, English edition, Retrieved on the 15-12-08
  3. ^ Danjiri Matsuri Festival
  4. ^ Kernbach, Victor (1989). Dicţionar de Mitologie Generală. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică. ISBN 973-29-0030-X.
  5. ^ Brown, Gary (1996). Great Bear Almanac. pp. 340. ISBN 1558214747. 
  6. ^ Amrhein, Laura Marie (2001). An Iconographic and Historic Analysis of Terminal Classic Maya Phallic Imagery. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Richmond: Virginia Commonwealth University.
  7. ^ "Yale Band Punished for Half-Time Show". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  8. ^ "Puppetry of the Penis". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Mary Roach. The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. W. W. Norton and Co, New York (2008).  page 66f, page 73


  • Vigeland Monolith - Oslo, Norway
  • Honour, Hugh (1999). The Visual Arts: A History. New York: H.N. Abrams. ISBN 0-810-93935-5. 
  • Keuls, Eva C. (1985). The Reign of the Phallus. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-520-07929-9. 
  • Kernbach, Victor (1989). Dicţionar de Mitologie Generală. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică. ISBN 973-29-0030-X. 
  • Leick, Gwendolyn (1994). Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06534-8. 
  • Lyons, Andrew P.; Harriet D. Lyons (2004). Irregular Connections: A History of Anthropology and Sexuality. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-8036-X. 


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