In the mountainous country of Bhutan, painted depictions and wood carvings of penises abound.
Many people consider the penises a defense against evil spirits, and the tradition of painting or carving phallic figures has its roots in a 15th-century Buddhist monk named Drukpa Kunley, who was also known as the “saint of 5,000 women.” According to legend, he offered blessings in the form of sex, and his penis was referred to as his “flaming thunderbolt of wisdom.” The phallus is worn as a necklace or costume and is sometimes used as a sort of scarecrow to ward off misfortune and gossip.
Tourism is on the rise—the number of visitors grew 21 percent from 2016 to 2017—and so is foreign fascination with the ubiquitous penises. Foreigners are snapping photos of “flaming thunderbolt” tributes and visiting the Chimi Lhakhang monastery, which honors Kunley, in growing numbers.
Here are a few of our favorite, um… pics.