Gods, Dildos & Penis Pottery: A Visual History of Phallic Sculptures Throughout History
A wise man once said, “There are two types of gay men in this world: size queens and liars,” but obviously this humorous and somewhat size-ist quotation isn’t true. The truth is that gay men and artistic sculptors across cultures and throughout history have depicted penises in different sizes and for different historical reasons. Let’s take a quick look at penis sculpture throughout history.
Also, there are other historic instances of penis sculpture from around the world, but these below (ahem) “stick out” as the most prominent.
1. 6000 – 4000 BC: Stone age dildos?
In 2010, archaeologists in Sweden unearthed some strangely phallic tool carved out of antler measuring four inches long and 0.8 inches in diameter. Though they had seen nothing like it, researchers thought it might have (also) been used to chip flakes of flint or shape stone, as one end of the implement was sharp and pointed.
This Stone Age penis sculpture reminded them of a similar stone artifact that archaeologists found from Germany dating back 28,000 years. Researchers couldn’t decide whether men or women would’ve used the tool. Maybe both?
2. 3500 BC: Shiva’s ding-a-Linga
If you go to any temple dedicated to Shiva, Hindu’s supreme being, you’ll undoubtedly see rounded columns, often smeared with colored dust or adorned with a garland of flowers. This is a linga, and it represents Shiva’s penis pushing through the earth, a cosmic pillar of energy capable of creating all life.
Though some historians say the column represents a spine holding the cosmic chakras (energy centers) rather than a penis, many natives of India consider it a giant penis sculpture. Sometimes it will sit upon a ridged disc-shaped base called a yoni that represent Shaktis, “The Great Divine Mother” in Hinduism, or her vagina/uterus.
3. 2050 – 1550 BC: Min, the well-hung Egyptian Fertility God
From the Middle Kingdom era to the New Kingdom era, Min the Egyptian god of fertility and male sexuality rose into prominence, commonly depicted as having one hand holding an upside-down, V-shaped flail (commonly understood to represent a vagina) and his other (hidden) hand holding his erect, circumcised penis.
He became popular in pharaoh coronation ceremonies because his blessing was believed to increase fertility (ensuring a bountiful harvest) and to guarantee that a man would father an heir, a must-have for divine rulers. His worshippers sometimes rubbed Egyptian lettuce on their skin until its leaves released a semen-like fluid onto their skin. At festivals honoring him, attendees would get prizes for climbing the tallest poles (yet another penis symbol).
One of Min’s statues is said to have been 55 feet tall with an eight-foot penis — the larger the penis, the wetter the Nile!
4. 206 BC – 220 AD: Ancient Chinese necro-buttplugs
From 1995 to 2011, a series of excavations of 2000-year-old royal and wealthy tombs in China revealed various bronze dildos and jade butt plugs from the Han Dynasty. These dildos — small, lightweight instances of penis sculpture — weren’t very large or long, probably because archeologists suspect, they might not have been used for anal pleasure at all.
Rather, researchers believe they were inserted into bodies after death as mouth and anal plugs to help “seal the body and keep in vital essences (also known as “chi”) that can leak out” after death. They were made of jade because its priceless purity and beauty were thought to “ward off spiritual and bodily decay.”
5. 800 – 300 BC: Sculptures with reasonably-sized dicks
As we’ve mentioned before, classical sculptures from Ancient Greece tended to have smaller penises because the Greeks equated large penises with foolish, lustful and irrational men. Seeing as Greek sculptures idealized perfect proportions, smaller non-erect penises were the ideal.
We should note there are Greek statues with large penises, though they tend to be of satyrs (goat men) and Priapus, a Greek fertility god so hated by the other gods that Hera cursed him with a permanent erection before the gods kicked him off of Mount Olympus.
6. 200 – 900 AD: Middle-American penis pottery
On the northern coast of Peru, the Moche civilization made great temples, aqueducts and were skilled at metal working and pottery. Some of the most eyebrow-raising finds from that culture were pieces of pottery depicting sex acts ranging from heterosexual anal sex and male masturbation to hetero oral sex and some male-on-male homosexual sex.
Many of these pieces had a place for depositing fluid, with the liquid coming out of the penis tip. Historians disagree about how these items were used. Some say they served as a form of visual sex education; others say they depict forms of contraceptive sex and others say they were symbols depicting the domination of Moche leaders over others.
This article was originally published on December, 2 2020. It has since been updated.