Phallus with tenon from figure - ROM2005_1348_1


Phallus with tenon from figure

Medium:Wood, carved
Geography: Excavated at Djeser-Akhet, Deir el-Bahri, Egypt
Date: c. 1186-1069 BC
Period: 20th Dynasty, Ramesside Period, New Kindgom
22 x 4.2 cm
Object number: 907.18.897
Not on view

Charles Trick Currelly found several dozen wooden phalloi in the shrine of the Cow which was uncovered at Deir el Bahari by a rockslide while he was working there with Dr. Edouard Naville.

The phalloi are all different, and many appear very crude, as if home-made.  Some, such as this one, were more professionally carved.  The tenon on the back suggests it belonged to a statue of the god Amun-Min or Amun-Ka-Mut-ef.  Amun was both a national god and a local, Theban, deity.  He promoted male fertility and sexuality. The Ancient Egyptians, in common with many other peoples, ancient and modern, believed that the essential baby-making material came from men; rituals featuring an ithyphallic form of Amun were designed to encourage both men and women to feel cheerful and sexy.

The Greek traveller, Herodotus, who visited Egypt during the Persian occupation, about 450 BCE, wrote that in some festivals images of an ithyphallic diety were taken in procession, and their state of sexual arousal controlled by strings, marionette style.  If Herodotus was correct, this particular wooden phallus from Deir el Bahri may once have been part of such a festival, but as it is hundreds of years older than his story, its purpose may have been quite different. 

Not all votive phalloi have tenons; only two of the Royal Ontario Museum's twenty examples are so equipped.

Object History: Excavated by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1907-1910
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