Medieval church carvings, masturbation included
July 16, 2008 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Tina Manthorpe's Flickr set of churces and church carvings has many lovely images of the kinds of things one isn't surprised to see in churches, trees of life, colorful roof bosses, misericords and many more such beauties. More shocking to modern sensibilities are the pictures in the set she calls exhibitionist church carvings, featuring such images as a protogoatse, Starbucksesque mermaids, autofellatio, free-hanging genitals and, uh... something involving thumb-sucking and snakes.
posted by Kattullus (16 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I made the exhibitionist stuff the focus of the post, but the rest of her set has some really stunning images. For instance, I'm very fond of this green man.
posted by Kattullus at 11:32 PM on July 16, 2008

This whole flickr set is really absorbing... but why were the erotic carvings made for the churches anyway?
posted by not_on_display at 11:40 PM on July 16, 2008

I believe they weren't meant to be erotic per se. There's a run down of the main theories for why such images are there in the wikipedia article on Sheela na Gigs.
posted by Kattullus at 11:44 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Michael Camille wrote some interesting things about this.
posted by pracowity at 12:01 AM on July 17, 2008

This was great! I'd seen some of the obvious gargoyle-ish stuff on cathedrals -- gutters set into pissing women's buttocks, for instance -- and there are amazing carvings done on church pews (probably while a sermon is going on) that have many of these same themes (the sheela-na-gig, the self-fellating man, etc.) but this is a fine set of images.
posted by CCBC at 12:18 AM on July 17, 2008

Aces stuff! I suppose the thumbsuckers are Adam and Eve.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 1:45 AM on July 17, 2008

I can has my cock out. Not sure how that raised to peasant mind to higher things.
posted by Abiezer at 2:23 AM on July 17, 2008

This is excellent. Thanks!
posted by duvatney at 6:52 AM on July 17, 2008

Just to add one thing: I have a feeling that Adam and Eve are eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, not sucking their thumbs. That would make for a very different version of Genesis.
posted by duvatney at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2008

Thanks, duvatney, now that you've said it it seems obvious. Those snakes are still chomping on their genitals, though.
posted by Kattullus at 7:47 AM on July 17, 2008

Sheesh, Eve. Put on a bra or something. My goodness.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:06 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Did anybody besides me notice that there are 69 pictures in the Exhibitionist Church Carvings set?
posted by Corky at 8:33 AM on July 17, 2008

I swear that when I made the post there were only 67 pictures. I'd hate to think that I missed such an obvious joke.
posted by Kattullus at 8:52 AM on July 17, 2008

Maybe they should put money in their idle holes.
posted by katillathehun at 11:12 AM on July 17, 2008

There's a chuch near me with these sorts of carvings. Apparently, there used to be LOADS of these things all over the place but Cromwell's boys smashed them all. Only the out-of-the-way churches survived.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:26 AM on July 18, 2008

the wikipedia article on Sheela na Gigs.

posted by jessamyn at 7:09 PM on July 18, 2008

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