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Ancient carving of Min, the Egyptian god of fertility.

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

Contents

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]

Neolithic

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]

Japan

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.

Balkans

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]

Switzerland

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]

India

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

Notes

  1. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2005-07-25). "Ancient phallus unearthed in cave". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4713323.stm. 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. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=525595. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  8. ^ "Puppetry of the Penis". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/11/01/DD88346.DTL. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  9. ^ Philamuseum.org
  10. ^ Mary Roach. The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. W. W. Norton and Co, New York (2008).  page 66f, page 73

References

  • Vigeland Monolith - Oslo, Norway Polytechnique.fr
  • 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. 

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also phallus

Contents

German

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German Wikipedia has an article on:
Phallus

Wikipedia de

Noun

Phallus m. (genitive Phallus, plural Phalli)

  1. phallus

Derived terms

Related terms


Simple English

File:Pompeya eró
A fresco (type of wall painting) of Mercury with a giant erect penis that was found on a wall in the Roman city of Pompeii. The fresco, now in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, is believed to have been painted between 89 B.C. and 79 A.D.
on the market place of Athens, work by Polyeuktos ~280 BC.]]
File:Three lingams Goa
Three lingams from Goa

The word phallus refers to an erect penis, to a penis-shaped object such as a dildo, or to a mimetic image of an erect penis.

Any object that symbolically resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus, or as being phallic (as in 'phallic symbol'). Such symbols represent the fertility associated with the male sexual organ, and the male orgasm.

Contents

Culture

Symbol of sex and fertility

When an erect penis is shown in art, it is often called a phallus (pronounced FA-ləs). Erotic (sexually exciting) art has shown phalluses for a very long time. Pictures of men with erections appear on ancient objects and in paintings.

The erect penis was also a symbol or sign of health and fertility (the ability to give life). The Hohle Fels phallus was found in a cave in Germany. It is a piece of stone carved to look like a penis that is about 28,000 years old.[1]

From the fourth millennium B.C. (4000–3001 B.C.), Ancient Egyptians worshipped Min as the god of reproduction and the maker of all things.[2] Min was shown in statues and on wall carvings as having an erect penis.

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks believed in a god called Priapus who had a very large penis that was always erect. He was thought to protect livestock (animals kept by humans for food, milk, leather or wool), fruit plants and gardens, and men's sex organs. He was also seen as able to chase away evil, and as a protector of sailors, fishermen and others needing good luck.[3] The oldest piece of writing about Priapus that is known is a comedy (a funny or silly play) written some time in the fourth century B.C. (400–301 B.C.).[4] In Greek mythology, Priapus tried to attack a nymph (a female spirit) named Lotis who was sleeping so he could force her to have sex. However, a donkey brayed – it gave a loud cry. This made him lose his erection, and also woke Lotis up. To save Lotis, the gods turned her into a lotus plant.[5] In the end, Priapus's lust – his strong desire to have sex – made him have an erection all the time, and his penis grew so large that he could not move.[6] Although some temples were built for people to pray to Priapus, he was mostly worshipped in people's homes or gardens. Donkeys would sometimes be killed and offered to him, but gifts of fish, flowers, fruit and vegetables were also very common.[4] Statues of Priapus were often placed at doorways and crossroads (places where two roads crossed). To make Priapus happy, people passing by would stroke the statue's penis.[6]

Herma

A Herma, or herm, is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height. The form originated in Ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans, and revived at the Renaissance.

In ancient Greece the statues functioned as a sort of good-luck charm, and were placed at crossings and borders as protection. Hermes was a phallic god, associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. His name comes from the word herma. In Athens, they were placed outside houses for good luck. The male genitals would be rubbed or anointed with olive oil to obtain luck.

Ancient India

Shiva, perhaps the most ancient of the Indian deities, and the third of the Hindu Trinity -- one of the most widely worshipped and edified deity in the Hindu pantheon, is worshipped often in the form of the lingam, or phallus. Evidence of phallic worship in the India date back to prehistoric times. Stone Lingams with several varieties of stylized "heads", or the glans, are found to this date in many of the old temples, and in museums in India and abroad.

The famous man-size lingam in the Parashurameshwar Temple in the Chitoor Distirct of the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh, better known as the Gudimallam Lingam, is about 1.5 metres in height, carved in polished black granite. Dated back to ca. 2300-2800 BC, it is one of the existing lingams from the pre-Buddhist period. The almost naturalistic giant lingam is distinguished by its prominent, bulbous head, and an anthromorphic form of Shiva carved in high relief on the shaft. Shiva Lingams in India have tended to become more and more stylized over the centuries, and existing lingams from before the 6th century show a more leaning towards the naturalistic style, with the glans clearly indicated.

Modern views

Today, phalluses do not often appear in artworks or movies (except in pornographic movies which show people having sex with each other). This is because many people think that showing a man's penis when it is erect is obscene (not decent).

References

  1. Jonathan Amos (25 July 2005). "Ancient phallus unearthed in cave". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4713323.stm. 
  2. F. Bechtel (1907). "Ammon". The Catholic Encyclopedia I. New York, N.Y.: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved on 4 August 2008. 
  3. "Priapus". The Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). (1910–1911). Ed. Hugh Chisholm. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Robert Christopher Towneley Parker (2003). "Priapus". The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed.). Ed. Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  5. Egerton Sykes; Alan Kendall (2002). "Priapus". Who's Who in Classical Mythology. London; New York, N.Y.: Routledge. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kevin McLeish (1996). "Priapus". Bloomsbury Dictionary of Myth. London: Bloomsbury. 







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