A phallus is an erect penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

, a penis-shaped object such as a dildo
A dildo is a sex toy, often explicitly phallic in appearance, intended for bodily penetration during masturbation or sex with partners.- Description and uses :...

, or a mimetic
Mimesis , from μιμεῖσθαι , "to imitate," from μῖμος , "imitator, actor") is a critical and philosophical term that carries a wide range of meanings, which include imitation, representation, mimicry, imitatio, receptivity, nonsensuous similarity, the act of resembling, the act of expression, and the...

 image of an erect penis. Any object that symbolically 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 the fertility and cultural implications that are associated with the male sexual organ, as well as the male orgasm.


Via Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 , from Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 *bhel- "to inflate, swell". Compare with Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 (and modern Icelandic) boli = "bull
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

", Old English bulluc = "bullock
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

", Greek = "whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...



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. Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 clay representations have been linked to phallic rituals. In many ancient cultures, phallic structures symbolized wellness and good health.

Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

In traditional Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, 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
Pan (mythology)
Pan , in Greek religion and mythology, is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs. His name originates within the Greek language, from the word paein , meaning "to pasture." He has the hindquarters, legs,...

, son of Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, was often depicted as having an exaggerated erect phallus.

In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos , was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism...

 is a Greek god of fertility whose symbol was an exaggerated phallus. The son of Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 and either Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 or Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

, 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
Priapism is a potentially harmful and painful medical condition in which the erect penis or clitoris does not return to its flaccid state, despite the absence of both physical and psychological stimulation, within four hours. There are two types of priapism: low-flow and high-flow. Low-flow...

The city of Tyrnavos
Tyrnavos is a municipality in the Larissa regional unit, of the Thessaly region of Greece. Tyrnavos is the prefecture's third largest community within the Larissa prefecture. The town is near the mountains and the Thessalian Plain. The river Titarisios, a tributary of the Pineios, flows through...

 in Greece holds an annual Phallus festival
Phallic processions
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...

, a traditional phallophoric event on the first days of Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...


The phallus was ubiquitous in ancient Roman culture
Culture of ancient Rome
Ancient Roman culture existed throughout the almost 1200-year history of the civilization of Ancient Rome. The term refers to the culture of the Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, which, at its peak, covered an area from Lowland Scotland and Morocco to the Euphrates.Life in ancient Rome...

, particularly in the form of the fascinum, a phallic charm. The ruins of Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 produced bronze wind chimes (tintinnabula
Tintinnabulum (Ancient Rome)
In ancient Rome, a tintinnabulum was a wind chime or assemblage of bells. A tintinnabulum often took the form of a bronze phallic figure or fascinum, a magico-religious phallus thought to ward off the evil eye and bring good fortune and prosperity.A tintinnabulum was hung outdoors in locations...

that featured the phallus, often in multiples, to ward off the evil eye
Evil eye
The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike...

 and other malevolent influences. Statues of Priapus similarly guarded gardens. Roman boys wore the bulla
-People:* Anton Bulla, a Slovak footballer and coach* Clyde Robert Bulla , an American author of books for children* Johnny Bulla, an American golfer* Karl Bulla, a Russian photographer* Max Bulla, an Australian bicycle racer...

, an amulet that contained a phallic charm, until they formally came of age. According to Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, the cult of Father Liber
In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber , also known as Liber Pater was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome's plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia became associated with free speech and the rights...

, who presided over the citizen's entry into political and sexual manhood, involved a phallus.The phallic deity Mutunus Tutunus
Mutunus Tutunus
In ancient Roman religion, Mutunus Tutunus or Mutinus Titinus was a phallic marriage deity, in some respects equated with Priapus. His shrine was located on the Velian Hill, supposedly since the founding of Rome, until the 1st century BC....

 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
Sexuality in Ancient Rome
Sexual attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome are indicated by Roman art, literature and inscriptions, and to a lesser extent by archaeological remains such as erotic artifacts and architecture...

 has sometimes been characterized as "phallocentric."

Ancient India

Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, the (arguably) most ancient of the Indian
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 deities with prehistoric origins, and the third of the Hindu Trinity -- one of the most widely worshipped and edified deity in the Hindu pantheon, is worshipped much more commonly in the form of the Lingam
The Lingam is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples....

, or the phallus. Evidence of phallic worship in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 dates 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
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

, 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.
But this theory has not been recognized universally.

Etymology of “Linga”, or “Lingam”

Linguistic evidence indicates that the post-Vedic Hindus not only adopted the tradition/ cult of the linga from the pre-Vedic non-Aryans, but even the term itself is of Austric origin.

-- Mahadev Chakravarti: The Concept of Rudra-Siva Through the Ages (p. 130)

The word ‘linga’, while ubiquitous in the Austro-Asiatic world, cannot be seen originally to be occurring in the Indo-European languages. He further says that when these two words entered Sanskrit, they, along with another word ‘langula’ (tail) were derivations of the same root syllable ‘lang’ or ‘lng’. If this correlation is accepted on the basis of the obvious phonetic proximity between the three words ling-langala-langula, then it is not hard to recognize the semantic evolution of the words. Because the usage of the phallus or the male generative organ in human procreation, and the usage of a tool/implement like the ploughshare (langula) to till the earth for its fetility to bring forth life-supporting vegetation, have a natural and spontaneous symbolical parallel and similarity in each other.

Ancient Egypt

The phallus played a role in the cult of Osiris
Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and...

 in ancient Egyptian religion. When Osiris' body was cut in 14 pieces, Seth
Set (mythology)
Set was in Ancient Egyptian religion, a god of the desert, storms, and foreigners. In later myths he was also the god of darkness, and chaos...

 scattered them all over Egypt and his wife Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 retrieved all of them except one, his penis, which was swallowed by a fish; see the Legend of Osiris and Isis
Legend of Osiris and Isis
The Myth of Osiris and Isis, concerning the deities of Egyptian mythology Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Set, became one of the most important and powerful in Egyptian mythology during the New Kingdom...

. Supposedly, Isis made a wooden replacement.

The phallus was a symbol of fertility, and the god Min
Min (god)
Min is an Ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in predynastic times . He was represented in many different forms, but was 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...

 was often depicted as ithyphallic, that is, with an erect penis.

Abrahamic religions

In Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

, religious male circumcision or Brit milah
Brit milah
The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...

 is a covenant
Covenant (biblical)
A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith. It it is used in the Tanakh 286 times . All Abrahamic religions consider the Biblical covenant...

 between God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and His people
People of God
"People of God" is a description that the Tanakh or Old Testament applies to the Jewish people and that the New Testament applies to Christians. Within the Catholic Church, it has been given greater prominence because of its employment in documents of the Second Vatican Council .-Usage in the...

. The traditional practice involves metzitzah b'peh, or oral suction, where the mohel
A mohel is a Jewish person trained in the practice of brit milah "covenant of circumcision."-Etymology of the Hebrew and Aramaic term:...

sucks blood from the circumcision wound. The ceremony is followed by a celebratory meal (seudat mitzvah
Seudat mitzvah
A seudat mitzvah , in Judaism, is an obligatory festive meal, usually referring to the celebratory meal following the fulfillment of a mitzvah , such as a bar mitzvah, a wedding, a brit milah , or a siyum...

). The ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 is practiced by Jews and Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s and some Christians.

Circumcision of Jesus
Circumcision of Jesus
The Circumcision of Jesus is an event from the life of Jesus of Nazareth according to the Gospel of Luke, which states in verse 2:21 that Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth...

 is celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ or the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is celebrated by a number of Christian denominations, on varying dates.The feast has been celebrated in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, at least at local levels, since the end of the fifteenth century...

. The Holy Prepuce
Holy Prepuce
The Holy Prepuce, or Holy Foreskin is one of several relics attributed to Jesus, a product of the circumcision of Jesus....

 is one of the relics associated with Jesus considered to be the Holy of Holies
Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

 or sanctum sanctorum
Sanctum sanctorum
The Latin phrase sanctum sanctorum is a Latin translation of the biblical term: "Holy of Holies" which generally refers in Latin texts to the Holiest place of the Tabernacle of Ancient Israel and later the Temples in Jerusalem, but also has some derivative use in application to imitations of the...


The church father Epiphanius
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

 records that the Borborites
According to the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis , and Theodoret's Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, the Borborites or Borborians were a libertine Gnostic sect, said to be descended from the Nicolaitans...

 and other libertine Gnostic sects consumed semen as the Body of Christ
Body of Christ
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

. The Pistis Sophia
Pistis Sophia
Pistis Sophia is an important Gnostic text, possibly written as early as the 2nd century. The five remaining copies, which scholars place in the 5th or 6th centuries, relate the Gnostic teachings of the transfigured Jesus to the assembled disciples , when the risen Christ had accomplished eleven...

in the modern St. Priapus Church
St. Priapus Church
St. Priapus Church is a North American religion founded in the 1980s that centres on the worship of the phallus.St. Priapus Church was founded in Montreal, Quebec, by D. F. Cassidy and has found a following mainly among homosexual men in Canada and the United States...

, consumption of semen in the presence of others is a form of worship. It is esteemed as sacred because of its divine life-giving power. Some chapters of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica , or the Gnostic Catholic Church, is the ecclesiastical arm of Ordo Templi Orientis , an international fraternal initiatory organization devoted to promulgating the Law of Thelema. Thelema is a philosophical, mystical and religious system elaborated by Aleister Crowley,...

 practice the consumption of semen during the Gnostic Mass, composed by Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...


Ancient Scandinavia

  • The Norse
    Norse mythology
    Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

     god Freyr
    Freyr is one of the most important gods of Norse paganism. Freyr was highly associated with farming, weather and, as a phallic fertility god, Freyr "bestows peace and pleasure on mortals"...

     is a phallic deity, representing male fertility and love.
  • The short story Völsa þáttr
    Völsa þáttr
    Vǫlsa þáttr is a short story which is only extant in the Flatey Book, where it is found in a chapter of Óláfs saga helga. It is probably from the fourteenth century but takes place in 1029 when Scandinavia was still largely pagan, and it appears to preserve traditions of a pagan phallos cult, the...

    describes a family of Norwegians worshiping a preserved horse penis.
  • Some image stones, such as the Stora Hammers and Tängelgårda stone
    Tängelgarda stone
    The image stone at Tängelgårda, Lärbro parish, Gotland, Sweden is decorated with a scene of warriors holding rings, one horsed, with Valknut symbols drawn beneath.-External links:...

    s, were phallic shaped.


The Mara Kannon Shrine (麻羅観音) in Nagato
Nagato, Yamaguchi
is a city located in Yamaguchi, Japan.The city was founded on March 31, 1954.Nagato consists of five smaller towns that were absorbed over the past several years. The towns are Fukawa, Senzaki, Yuya, Heki and Misumi...

, Yamaguchi prefecture
Yamaguchi Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan in the Chūgoku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Yamaguchi, in the center of the prefecture. The largest city, however, is Shimonoseki.- History :...

 is one of many fertility shrines in Japan that still exist today. Also present in festivals such as the Danjiri Matsuri
Danjiri Matsuri
Danjiri Matsuri are cart-pulling festivals held in Japan. The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is probably the most famous.-The danjiri cart:Danjiri are large wooden carts in the shape of a shrine or temple. The carts, often being crafted out of wood, are very ornate, with elaborate carvings...

 (だんじり祭) in Kishiwada
Kishiwada, Osaka
is a city located in Osaka, Japan. Founded November 1, 1922, the city is well-known for its Danjiri Matsuri.-History:The oldest evidence of life in Kishiwada is the Mayuyama Kofun . The most popular origin story of Kishiwada dates from the 14th century...

, Osaka prefecture
Osaka Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the Kansai region on Honshū, the main island of Japan. The capital is the city of Osaka. It is the center of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto area.- History :...

 and the Kanamara Matsuri
Kanamara Matsuri
The Shinto 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...

, in Kawasaki
Kawasaki, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, between Tokyo and Yokohama. It is the 9th most populated city in Japan and one of the main cities forming the Greater Tokyo Area and Keihin Industrial Area....

, Kanagawa Prefecture
Kanagawa Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the southern Kantō region of Japan. The capital is Yokohama. Kanagawa is part of the Greater Tokyo Area.-History:The prefecture has some archaeological sites going back to the Jōmon period...

 though historically phallus adoration was more widespread.


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
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 performed by Kukeri
Kukeri is a traditional Bulgarian ritual to scare away evil spirits, with a costumed man performing the ritual. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt...

) 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
Sowing is the process of planting seeds.-Plants which are usually sown:Among the major field crops, oats, wheat, and rye are sowed, grasses and legumes are seeded, and maize and soybeans are planted...

) and is carried out with the participation of numerous allegorical personages, among which is the Emperor and his entourage.


In Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, heraldic bears occurring on various coats of arms had to be painted with bright red penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

es, or be mocked as being she-bears. The omission of this led to an angry letter by the authorities of Appenzell
Appenzell is a region and historical canton in the northeast of Switzerland, entirely surrounded by the Canton of St. Gallen....

 in 1579 sent to the city counsel of St. Gallen
St. Gallen
St. Gallen is the capital of the canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland. It evolved from the hermitage of Saint Gall, founded in the 7th century. Today, it is a large urban agglomeration and represents the center of eastern Switzerland. The town mainly relies on the service sector for its economic...

. The conflict was resolved by a well-respected bishop, after nearly escalating into a war. (See Bears in heraldry
Bears in heraldry
The bear is a common charge in heraldry, perhaps inherited from its totemic use among Germanic peoples and by some interpreted as symbolizing strength, cunning and ferocity in the protection of one's kindred. Numerous cities around the world have adopted the bear in their arms, notably the Swiss...


The Americas

Figures of Kokopelli
Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player , who has been venerated by some Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture...

 and Itzamna
In Yucatec Maya mythology, Itzamna was the name of an upper god and creator deity thought to be residing in the sky. Little is known about him, but scattered references are present in early-colonial Spanish reports and dictionaries. Twentieth-century Lacandon lore includes tales about a creator...

 (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.


The symbolic version of the phallus, a phallic symbol is meant to represent male generative powers. According to Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

's theory of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, while males possess a penis, no one can possess the symbolic phallus. Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan
Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis and philosophy, and has been called "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud". Giving yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan influenced France's...

's Ecrits: A Selection includes an essay titled The Significance of the Phallus which articulates the difference between "being" and "having" the phallus. Men are positioned as men insofar as they are seen to have the phallus. Women, not having the phallus, are seen to "be" the phallus. The symbolic phallus is the concept of being the ultimate man, and having this is compared to having the divine gift of God.

In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler
Judith Butler
Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist philosopher, who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics. She is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley.Butler received her Ph.D...

 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" (135). 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 (62).

Modern use of the phallus

The phallus is often used to advertise pornography
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

, as well as the sale of contraception
Contraception is the prevention of the fusion of gametes during or after sexual activity. The term contraception is a contraction of contra, which means against, and the word conception, meaning fertilization...

. It has often been used in provocative practical jokes and has been the central focus of adult-audience performances.

The phallus has a new set of art interpretations in the 20th century with the rise of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

. One example is "Princess X" by the Romanian modernist sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi
Constantin Brancusi
Constantin Brâncuşi was a Romanian-born sculptor who made his career in France. As a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris...

. He created a scandal in the Salon in 1919 when he represented or caricatured Princess Marie Bonaparte
Princess Marie Bonaparte
Princess Marie Bonaparte was a French author and psychoanalyst, closely linked with Sigmund Freud. Her wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis, and enabled Freud's escape from Nazi Germany....

 as a large gleaming bronze phallus. This phallus likely symbolizes Bonaparte's obsession with the penis and her lifelong quest to achieve vaginal orgasm.

See also the Most Phallic Building contest
Most Phallic Building contest
The World's Most Phallic Building contest was a contest held in 2003 by Cabinet magazine to find the building which most resembled a human phallus...

 for modern examples of phallic designs.

See also

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