Penis, Cock and Meat Rifle – Bhutan’s Phallus Cult

When travelling the Kingdom of Bhutan, then the country appears everything but being R-rated, as countless penis drawings hail from houses and walls. That phallus cult and its traditional  depictions shall scare away the evil and promise fertility. Bhutan’s willy cult originally goes back to Guru Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman. In 15th century that Saint brought not only Buddhism to the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan but also his adventure thirsty genital.

Stretching up to Heaven high

Catholic priests must be mega jealous on Buddhism, Bhutan and its phallus cult. Basically because of the Divine Madman, how Guru (or Lama) Drukpa Kunley is known to others. Or better to say on Kunley’s way of religiosity and reaching enlightenment, as it’s essentially basing on a lot of sex. No surprise that The Divine Madman’s other nickname is “The Saint of 5000 Women”. Catholic priests, especially the ones at the U.S. East Coast, still practice and see that likewise, even today, but secretly, when involving 5000 altar boys.

But back from the Land of the Free to the Himalayas, where Tandin takes us under his wing. Our government-provided mandatory leader on the journey through the Kingdom of Clouds, recites all Buddhist facts in a literally brain-blowing, mechanical and chronologically linear manner. Being dead honest, I remember (very) little of his verbal pressure refuelling, but one name appeared often, that is “The Divine Madman”. According to the legend he is also the creator of the Takin; a Bhutan endemic hoofed animal being half mountain goat and half cattle.

To my heretical question, how the Lama actually created that animal, Tandin points to a phallus containing photograph of a mask plastically representing mental insanity and replies: “With his penis, of course.” Somehow I feel reminded of Böhmermann poem-like human-animal moments. My eyes look desperately around for a situation escape. The sighting of Takine in the nearby game park of Thimphu fortunately brings me back to reality.

Mask Festivals and Country Side with Dicks

Tandin takes us to the villages in the south of Punakha. Along our way to Chime Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility, penis images popup like adverts on a porn website. Small and large, thick and thin, with and without balls – well, everything is there. Many of the dick pictures are man-high, decorated with eyes and squirt their viscous milk joyfully.

Inside the temple “The Divine Madman” is depicted in the presence of a large wooden phallus. Very worth of photograph, but unfortunately one’s not allowed to take pictures in temples. I respect that through and through, but my heart photographer heart bleeds. My bleeding heart gets suddenly interrupted by schoolgirl-like laughter of a US-American travel group. The advertising sign of “Phallus Bar” makes those older ladies gigglingly stop their conversation what champagne brand they prefer.

How does one feel when drawing dicks? The answer is hard to find, as most penis drawings decorate historical houses. Means the shaft picture isn’t self-made but inherited. Rural people and farmers associate the image with a good harvest or a prosperous business. An interesting cult, as in our latitudes, rather femininity is the number one symbol of fertility. Not to mention the African’ understanding of fertility, being told by mural paintings dating back thousands of years.

Besides technique for Bhutan definitively size counts as well. That’s is the only way being able to explain the huge wooden dildos that the clowns of the Tshechu (mask festivals) carry with them. Those masters of ceremonies love (!) to run around the whole festival area, fidgeting wildly with their wooden dong, allowing themselves any kind of joke with dancers as well as the audience. Our guide proudly explains that the basic idea of the phallus is also reflected in the form of the Bhutanese stupa. Seen in that way, at the Dochula Pass one walks between 108 erections…

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