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A phallus as a reminder of Bhutan

Anyone who travels to the small country of Bhutan in the Himalayas will quickly be astonished by the different representations of phallic symbols.

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A phallus as a reminder of Bhutan

Anyone who travels to the small country of Bhutan in the Himalayas will quickly be astonished by the different representations of phallic symbols. Public love of the phallus, be it in the form of pictures on house walls or sculptures in public and less public spaces, is omnipresent across the country.

So it is not surprising that phallus figures of all kinds and shades can also be found in the souvenir shops there, for example as wooden pendants for the equivalent of two handfuls of euros, but also as hand-painted statues for the living room shelf, for which three-digit euro amounts have to be shelled out.

The diverse depictions of the phallus are an unusual sight for most visitors from all over the world, because in most cultures private parts do not belong in the public domain. In Bhutan, however, phallic symbols have a primarily religious meaning. Even if the supposedly raunchy motifs are becoming increasingly rare in the larger cities, in the country they are still traditionally painted on the walls of houses or hung from the eaves as wooden penises.

Funnily enough, they often have eyes, hair and grinning mouths. They are always shown in the erect state, also with ejaculate. It is important for the people of Bhutan to explain that this is not sex advertising at all, but that their fascination with the penis has historical and spiritual significance.

In Bhutan, it is believed that the phallus symbols are motifs from pre-Buddhist, animist religions in which the cult of the penis was an integral part of many rituals. This cult was later integrated into Bhutanese Buddhism.

Today's center of the phallus cult is the small Chimi Lhakhang monastery, the temple of fertility. It is near the city of Punakha, the former capital of the country.

The monastery is a popular destination for Buddhists who want to have children, making it one of the most visited in the country. Even today, the officiating lama gently slaps women on the head with a silver phallus to bless them with many children. Elsewhere, phalluses of wood and bone are also used for this type of blessing.

The monastery was built by the Bhutanese highly respected Lama Drukpa Kunley, who is also known as the crazy sage because of his unorthodox way of teaching. The eccentric Lama, who lived in the 15th century, brought Buddhism to Bhutan at the time.

He didn't have the best reputation, he was considered a drunkard and womanizer who could banish evil forces with his "flaming lightning bolt of wisdom" (meaning his very large penis). Wine, women and song were his most important companions on the path of wisdom. He is said to have had sex with over 5,000 women. To his earthly disciples, this is good consolation for their own vices. True to the motto: "What the llama can do, so can I."

There are many surviving anecdotes about the eccentric lama. When he was given a sacred thread to tie around his neck, he replied that he would rather tie the thread around his penis in order to have (even) better luck with women. Even today, therefore, one finds a phallus wrapped in a ribbon in many depictions.

The ubiquitous phallus symbols also have a pedagogical approach. Ideally, they should remind men to control their urges and use them positively, i.e. to be strong, fertile and protective. It is not entirely surprising that Bhutan also believes in the rule of thumb: the larger the penis, the greater its strength.

By the way, every tourist in Bhutan has to pay a sustainability fee of 200 US dollars to the government per day of stay in the country. That's a lot of money - if you want, you can see the many phallus figures and pictures that you see on the trip as a kind of consideration. And who knows, maybe the many penis depictions will even make you happy? It is not for nothing that Bhutan is the only country in the world that takes the gross national happiness of its citizens more important than gross national income.

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