An Unsubtle Monument

Before the most recent homestay we went to Harhorin (Хар Хорин), the once capital of the Mongolian Empire. It is in the Orkhon Valley, and at some point when I’m less tired I’ll talk about this history of the valley, the city (more of a town now), and the monastery. There’s also a rock here that inspired me to major in anthropology way back in high school that was unfortunately about 40km away from where we were.

Now is the time to talk about a certain monument that an abbot stuck on the mountainside. This was created a couple hundred years ago. Apparently the monks in the monastery were getting a little too intimate with the women of the town and this was supposed to stop them. I’m not exactly sure why. By the way the blue scarves are for very special things like shrines and valuable items. This stone penis stayed here for many years until the communist government decided they didn’t like it and had it dragged off. It was quickly returned or replaced by persons unknown, possibly several times. Now that religion and self expression is free, this is considered one of the most famous and significant relics of the area. This inspired some organization to make a modern interpretation. This:Tyler is there for scale. Mongolia, specifically Tibetan Buddhism has a habit of sticking little shrines, cairns, and monuments in random places in the middle of nowhere, though perhaps being within 15miles of a town makes it somewhere. While some of the monuments we’ve seen could be interpreted as phallic, I imagine Freud nodding sagely at that thought, this is by far the least subtle. As I said, the original was some sort of deterrent for the monks who were sneaking into the town. Presumably it was some sort of curse? But it was hard to tell, and Buddhist abbots are not really the cursing type.

What is interesting is the openness of this statue. While the original was kind of subtle, this cannot be mistake for anything else. I’ve been told that in Bhutan, families will often paint large penises on the outside walls. Again, I’m not sure why. This is odd in particular, because Mongolians are not particularly open about sex, but perhaps this implies a very different way of thinking about it.

Anyway, I’m tired from wrestling with Mongolians and Portal 2 just came out. Laters.


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