He spent his days singing and drinking with the ladies and deflowering virgins January 6, 2011 4:34 PMSubscribe
Phallus paintings and wood carvings were ubiquitous, like red chilies, all over Bhutan. But now they are fading as Bhutan undergoes prudish self-censorshipThey come in various sizes, color schemes and embellishments. Some have ribbons tied around them like jovial holiday presents. Others are coiled by daunting dragons. A few even have eyes. They typically feature hairy testicles, from the neatly trimmed to full-on Yeti-style. And, of course, all are fully erect.
“Oh, golly,” said an elderly woman visiting from Seattle, when she stepped off the bus in the Punakha valley and found herself surrounded by an alarming concentration of penis imagery, set against a magnificent Himalayan backdrop. Bhutan, famously wary of mass tourism, has been trying to prevent an influx of “volume tourists” who might create demand for Western-style culture. So the country of just 700,000 keeps those numbers low by charging visitors a daily minimum fee of up to $250.
But there's a tension here.
Since tourism is a major source of income for Bhutan, Prime Minister Jigme Thinley announced earlier this year that Bhutan aims to triple the number of tourists by 2012.
That's potentially bad news for penis worship. That's because some here worry the influx of tourists to this isolated Buddhist oasis is already weakening the essence of Bhutan — namely its relationship with the omnipresent phallus.