Phallus

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Mural of Priapus depicted with the attributes of Mercury in a fresco found in Pompeii Mercury god.jpg
Mural of Priapus depicted with the attributes of Mercury in a fresco found in Pompeii
Phallic religious sculpture of Linga, Kathmandu street, Nepal 1973 Phallic sculpture Nepal 1973.JPG
Phallic religious sculpture of Linga, Kathmandu street, Nepal 1973

A phallus is a penis (especially when erect), [1] an object that resembles a penis, or a mimetic image of an erect penis.

Penis primary sexual organ of male animals

A penis is the primary sexual organ that male animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates during copulation. Such organs occur in many animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate, but males do not bear a penis in every animal species, and in those species in which the male does bear a so-called penis, the penes in the various species are not necessarily homologous.

Erection Physiological phenomenon in which penis becomes firm

An erection is a physiological phenomenon in which the penis becomes firm, engorged, and enlarged. Penile erection is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, neural, vascular, and endocrine factors, and is often associated with sexual arousal or sexual attraction, although erections can also be spontaneous. The shape, angle, and direction of an erection varies considerably in humans.

Mimesis is a term used in literary criticism and philosophy that carries a wide range of meanings which include imitatio, imitation, nonsensuous similarity, receptivity, representation, mimicry, the act of expression, the act of resembling, and the presentation of the self.

Contents

Any object that symbolically—or, more precisely, iconically—resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus; however, such objects are more often referred to as being phallic (as in "phallic symbol"). Such symbols often represent fertility and cultural implications that are associated with the male sexual organ, as well as the male orgasm.

Etymology

Tintinnabulum from Pompeii showing a phallus Tintinnabulum Pompeii MAN Napoli Inv27839.jpg
Tintinnabulum from Pompeii showing a phallus

The term is a loanword from Latin phallus, itself borrowed from Greek φαλλός, which is ultimately a derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root *bʰel- "to inflate, swell". Compare with Old Norse (and modern Icelandic) boli "bull", Old English bulluc "bullock", Greek φαλλή "whale". [2]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

Proto-Indo-European language Ancestor of the Indo-European language family

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the linguistic reconstruction of the ancient common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, the most widely spoken language family in the world.

Archaeology

The Hohle phallus, a 28,000-year-old siltstone phallus discovered in the Hohle Fels cave and reassembled in 2005, is among the oldest phallic representations known. [3]

Hohle Fels Cave in Germany

The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Jura of Germany that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating from the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The cave is just outside the town of Schelklingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg, near Ulm. In 2017 the site became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura".

Religion

Classical antiquity

Polyphallic wind chime from Pompeii; a bell hung from each phallus Bronze ithyphallic figurine with a head of phalluses.jpg
Polyphallic wind chime from Pompeii; a bell hung from each phallus
Herm 0007MAN-Herma.jpg
Herm

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.

Greek mythology body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks

Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

Hermes ancient Greek god of roads, travelers, and thieves

Hermes is the god of trade, heralds, merchants, commerce, roads, thieves, trickery, sports, travelers, and athletes in Ancient Greek religion and mythology; the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, he was the second youngest of the Olympian gods.

Herma Sculpture with a head and often a torso above a plain lower section, often with male genitals at the appropriate height; originated in Ancient Greece, adopted by the Romans, and revived in the Renaissance

A herma, commonly in English 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. Hermae were so called either because the head of Hermes was most common or from their etymological connection with the Greek word ἕρματα, which originally had no reference to Hermes at all. The form originated in Ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans, and revived at the Renaissance in the form of term figures and Atlantes.

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.

Priapus Ancient Greek god of fertility and male genitalia

In Greek mythology, Priapus was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism. He became a popular figure in Roman erotic art and Latin literature, and is the subject of the often humorously obscene collection of verse called the Priapeia.

Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans.

Dionysus Ancient Greek god of winemaking and wine

Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.

The city of Tyrnavos in Greece holds an annual Phallus festival, a traditional phallophoric event on the first days of Lent. [4]

The phallus was ubiquitous in ancient Roman culture, particularly in the form of the fascinum , a phallic charm. [5] [6] The ruins of Pompeii produced bronze wind chimes (tintinnabula) that featured the phallus, often in multiples, to ward off the evil eye and other malevolent influences. Statues of Priapus similarly guarded gardens. Roman boys wore the bulla , an amulet that contained a phallic charm, until they formally came of age. According to Augustine of Hippo, the cult of Father Liber, who presided over the citizen's entry into political and sexual manhood, involved a phallus. The phallic deity Mutunus Tutunus promoted marital sex. A sacred phallus was among the objects considered vital to the security of the Roman state which were in the keeping of the Vestal Virgins. Sexuality in ancient Rome has sometimes been characterized as "phallocentric". [7]

Ancient Egypt

Egyptian statuette of Osiris with phallus and amulets Osiris statuette cropped.jpg
Egyptian statuette of Osiris with phallus and amulets

The phallus played a role in the cult of Osiris in ancient Egyptian religion. When Osiris' body was cut in 14 pieces, Set 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. Isis made him a wooden replacement.

The phallus was a symbol of fertility, and the god Min was often depicted as ithyphallic, that is, with an erect penis.

Ithyphallic Man with a Harp, Romano-Egyptian, 3rd-4th century Brooklyn Museum Ithyphallic Man with a Harp, 3rd-4th century.jpg
Ithyphallic Man with a Harp, Romano-Egyptian, 3rd-4th century Brooklyn Museum

Indonesia

According to the Indonesian chronicles of the Babad Tanah Jawi, Prince Puger gained the kingly power from God, by ingesting sperm from the phallus of the already-dead Sultan Amangkurat II of Mataram. [8] [9]

Bhutan

The phallus is commonly depicted in its paintings.

Ancient Scandinavia

Husavik Phallusmuseum (Icelandic Phallological Museum), Husavik Husavik Phallusmuseum.jpg
Husavik Phallusmuseum (Icelandic Phallological Museum), Húsavík

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) [10] in Kishiwada, Osaka prefecture, the Kanamara Matsuri, in Kawasaki, and the Hōnen Matsuri (豊年祭 Harvest Festival), in Komaki (小牧市 Komaki-shi), Aichi Prefecture (愛知県 Aichi-ken), though historically phallus adoration was more widespread.

Balkans

Phallus representation Cucuteni Culture 3000 BC Cucutenireperezentarefalica.jpg
Phallus representation Cucuteni Culture 3000 BC

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. [11]

Switzerland

The bear on the arms of Portein, Switzerland has a clearly visible red phallus, in accordance with the long-held tradition. Portein wappen.svg
The bear on the arms of Portein, Switzerland has a clearly visible red phallus, in accordance with the long-held tradition.

In Switzerland, the heraldic bears in a coat of arms had to be painted with bright red penises, otherwise they would have been mocked as being she-bears. In 1579, a calendar printed in St. Gallen omitted the genitals from the heraldic bear of Appenzell, nearly leading to war between the two cantons. [12] [13] [14]

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 Yucatán (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. [15]

Alternative sects

St. Priapus Church (French: Église S. Priape) is a North American new religion that centres on the worship of the phallus. Founded in the 1980s in Montreal, Quebec, by D. F. Cassidy, it has a following mainly among homosexual men in Canada and the United States. Semen is also treated with reverence and its consumption is an act of worship. [16] Semen is esteemed as sacred because of its divine life-giving power.

Psychoanalysis

Phallic-Head Plate, Gubbio, Italy, 1536 Phallic-Head Plate, 1536 .jpg
Phallic-Head Plate, Gubbio, Italy, 1536

The symbolic version of the phallus, a phallic symbol is meant to represent male generative powers. According to Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, while males possess a penis, no one can possess the symbolic phallus. Jacques Lacan's Ecrits: A Selection includes an essay titled The Signification of the Phallus in which sexual differentiation is represented in terms of the difference between "being" and "having" the phallus, which for Lacan is the transcendent signifier of desire. Men are positioned as men insofar as they wish to have the phallus. Women, on the other hand, wish to be the phallus. This difference between having and being explains some tragicomic aspects of sexual life. Once a woman becomes, in the realm of the signifier, the phallus the man wants, he ceases to want it, because one cannot desire what one has, and the man may be drawn to other women. Similarly, though, for the woman, the gift of the phallus deprives the man of what he has, and thereby diminishes her desire.

In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler explores Freud's and Lacan's discussions of the symbolic phallus by pointing out the connection between the phallus and the penis. She writes, "The law requires conformity to its own notion of 'nature'. It gains its legitimacy through the binary and asymmetrical naturalization of bodies in which the phallus, though clearly not identical to the penis, deploys the penis as its naturalized instrument and sign". In Bodies that Matter, she further explores the possibilities for the phallus in her discussion of The Lesbian Phallus. If, as she notes, Freud enumerates a set of analogies and substitutions that rhetorically affirm the fundamental transferability of the phallus from the penis elsewhere, then any number of other things might come to stand in for the phallus.

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 [17] and has been the central focus of adult-audience performances. [18]

The phallus had a new set of art interpretations in the 20th century with the rise of Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psychoanalysis of psychology. One example is "Princess X" [19] by the Romanian modernist sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. 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. [20]

See also the Most Phallic Building contest for examples of phallic architecture.

See also

Related Research Articles

Min (god) Egyptian deity

Min is an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in the predynastic period. He was represented in many different forms, but was most often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, "the maker of gods and men".

Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum Aspect of art in ancient Rome

Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum has been both exhibited as art and censored as pornography. The Roman cities around the bay of Naples were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, thereby preserving their buildings and artifacts until extensive archaeological excavations began in the 18th century. These digs revealed the cities to be rich in erotic artifacts such as statues, frescoes, and household items decorated with sexual themes. The ubiquity of such imagery and items indicates that the treatment of sexuality in ancient Rome was more relaxed than current Western culture. This clash of cultures led to a large number of erotic artifacts from Pompeii being locked away from the public for nearly 200 years.

Castration anxiety fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense

Castration anxiety is the fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Castration anxiety is an overwhelming fear of damage to, or loss of, the penis—one of Sigmund Freud's earliest psychoanalytic theories. Although Freud regarded castration anxiety as a universal human experience, few empirical studies have been conducted on the topic. Much of the research that has been done on the topic was done decades ago, although still relevant today. The theory is that a child has a fear of damage being done to their genitalia by the parent of the same sex as punishment for sexual feelings toward the parent of the opposite sex. It has been theorized that castration anxiety begins between the ages of 3 and 5, otherwise known as the phallic stage of development according to Freud. Although typically associated with males, castration anxiety is theorized to be experienced in differing ways for both the male and female sexes.

Phallic saint representation of a saint or fertility deity

Phallic saints are representations of saints or local deities who are invoked for fertility. The representations of the phallus are benevolent symbols of prolificacy and reproductive fruitfulness, and objects of reverence and especial worship among barren women and young girls.

Kukeri

Kukeri are elaborately costumed Bulgarian men, and sometimes women, who perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. Closely related traditions are found throughout the Balkans and Greece. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt. Around New Year and before Lent, the kukeri walk and dance through villages to scare away evil spirits with their costumes and the sound of their bells. They are also believed to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year.

Hōnensai

Harvest Festival is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15 in Japan. Hōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

Phallocentrism is the ideology that the phallus, or male sexual organ, is the central element in the organization of the social world. Phallocentrism has been analyzed in literary criticism, psychoanalysis and psychology, linguistics, medicine and health care, and philosophy.

Kanamara Matsuri annual festival in Kawasaki, Japan

The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri(かなまら祭り, "Festival of the Steel Phallus") is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The phallus, as the central theme of the event, is reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

Tyrnavos Place in Greece

Tyrnavos is a municipality in the Larissa regional unit, of the Thessaly region of Greece. It is the second-largest town of the Larissa regional unit, after Larissa. The town is near the mountains and the Thessalian Plain. The river Titarisios, a tributary of the Pineios, flows through the town. Tyrnavos is bypassed by the GR-3 and has an old road connecting the town to Elassona. It will be linked with a superhighway numbered 3 (A3) with an unscheduled opening date. Tyrnavos is located south-southwest of Thessaloniki and Katerini, northwest of Larissa, east-northeast of Trikala and south-southeast of Elassona and Kozani. Here live an important community of Aromanians (Vlachs).

In Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic philosophy, lack is a concept that is always related to desire. In his seminar Le transfert (1960–61) he states that lack is what causes desire to arise.

Phallic processions, or Penis Parade, called phallika in ancient Greece, were a common feature of Dionysiac celebrations; they were processions that advanced to a cult center, and were characterized by obscenities and verbal abuse. The display of a fetishized phallus was a common feature. In a famous passage in chapter 4 of the Poetics, Aristotle formulated the hypothesis that the earliest forms of comedy originated and evolved from "those who lead off the phallic processions", which were still common in many towns at his time.

Fascinus

In ancient Roman religion and magic, the fascinus or fascinum was the embodiment of the divine phallus. The word can refer to the deity himself (Fascinus), to phallus effigies and amulets, and to the spells used to invoke his divine protection. Pliny calls it a medicus invidiae, a "doctor" or remedy for envy or the evil eye.

St. Priapus Church, also known as Temple of Priapus, is a North American pagan religion founded in the 1980s that centres on the worship of the phallus.

Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis, the female psychosexual developmental stage when young girls experience anxiety upon realizing that they lack a penis; begins the transition from attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the father

Penis envy is a stage theorized by Sigmund Freud regarding female psychosexual development, in which young girls experience anxiety upon realization that they do not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in a series of transitions toward a mature female sexuality and gender identity. In Freudian theory, the penis envy stage begins the transition from an attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the attention, recognition and affection of the father. The parallel reaction of a boy's realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

Phallus paintings in Bhutan

Phallus paintings in Bhutan are esoteric symbols, which have their origins in the Chimi Lhakhang monastery near Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. The village monastery was built in honour of Lama Drukpa Kunley who lived in the 15-16th century and who was popularly known as the "Mad Saint" (nyönpa) or “Divine Madman” for his unorthodox ways of teaching, which amounted to being bizarre and shocking.

Phallic architecture archiitectural or sculptural structures that symbolically or realistically emanate the semblance with human penis

Phallic architecture consciously or unconsciously creates a symbolic representation of the phallus. Buildings intentionally or unintentionally resembling the human penis are a source of amusement to locals and tourists in various places around the world. Deliberate phallic imagery is found in ancient cultures and in the links to ancient cultures found in traditional artifacts.

Phallic monism is a term introduced by Chasseguet-Smirgel to refer to the theory that in both sexes the male organ—i.e. the question of possessing the penis or not—was the key to psychosexual development.

In psychoanalysis, phallic woman is a concept to describe a woman with the symbolic attributes of the phallus. More generally, it describes any woman possessing traditionally masculine characteristics.

References

Citations

  1. "Definition of phallus in English" Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  2. etymonline.com
  3. Amos, Jonathan (2005-07-25). "Ancient phallus unearthed in cave". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-07-08.Cite news requires |newspaper= (help)
  4. "The Annual Phallus Festival in Greece", Der Spiegel, English edition, Retrieved on the 15-12-08
  5. R. Joy Littlewood, A Commentary on Ovid: Fasti Book 6 (Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 73; T.P. Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth (Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 61 online.
  6. Joseph Rykwert, The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy, and the Ancient World (MIT Press, 1988), pp. 101 and 159 online.
  7. David J. Mattingly, Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire (Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 106.
  8. Moertono, Soemarsaid (2009). State and Statecraft in Old Java: A Study of the Later Mataram Period, 16th to 19th Century. Equinoc Publishing. p. 68. ISBN   9786028397438.
  9. Darmaputera, Eka (1988). Pancasila and the search for identity and modernity in Indonesian society: a cultural and ethical analysis. BRILL. pp. 108–9. ISBN   9789004084223.
  10. Danjiri Matsuri Festival
  11. Kernbach, Victor (1989). Dicţionar de Mitologie Generală. Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică. ISBN   973-29-0030-X.
  12. Neubecker, Ottfried (1976). Heraldry : sources, symbols, and meaning. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 120. ISBN   9780070463080.
  13. Strehler, Hermann (1965). "Das Churer Missale von 1589". Gutenberg-Jahrbuch. 40: 186.
  14. Grzimek, Bernhard (1972). Grzimek's Animal life encyclopedia. 12. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. p. 119.
  15. Amrhein, Laura Marie (2001). An Iconographic and Historic Analysis of Terminal Classic Maya Phallic Imagery. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Richmond: Virginia Commonwealth University.
  16. J. Gordon Melton (1996, 5th ed.). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Detroit, Mich.: Gale) ISBN   0-8103-7714-4 p. 952.
  17. "Yale Band Punished for Half-Time Show". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  18. Hurwitt, Robert (2002-11-01). "Puppetry of the Penis". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  19. Philamuseum.org
  20. Mary Roach. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex . W. W. Norton and Co, New York (2008). page 66f, page 73

Bibliography