Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Ithyphallic Art

Controversial Art

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Art Description
- Phallic Art of Bhutan
- Attached
- Detached
- Landscape
- Bhaga Art
- Eleven Types of Deities
- Confusions
- Others...

Ithyphallic Deities:
- Vajrabhairava (All solitary images)
- Yama Dharmaraja
- Black Jambhala
- Ganapati
- Mahadeva (Lha Chenpo)
- Others...

Ithyphllic art can be divided into two main topics, (1) deities that are depicted as ithyphallic and (2) symbolic motifs that are ithyphallic. Aside from the physical display of the male, in some instances a male or female deity can hold as a hand attribute an ithyphallic male sexual organ such as with some forms of Lha Chenpo. Imagery such as this is not generally found India and appears to belong to the 'Revealed Treasure' lineages of the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

The custom of painting phallic imagery is particularly common on the outside walls of Bhutanese homes and is believed to ward off negative spirits and protect against obstacles. Although the origins of the practice in Bhutan are generally attributed to an eccentric teacher named Drugpa Kunleg, it is more likely that the custom is far older and related to folk culture and marital customs.

Jeff Watt 6-2014 [updated 10-2019]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).