192. Yoni Bare

Nepal, 19th century
Size: 4 cm high, 6.5 cm diameter
Wood

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For obvious reasons the female sex, unlike the male phallus, is seldom attempted in sculpture. Instead, she is omnipresent in multiple symbolic forms, rather as she is in the male imagination. Even the tortured Jesuit, I suspect, can’t escape the magic of the Virgin’s nimbus. Except when still attached to a statue, the phallus is always shown erect, often boastfully so, a state more difficult to render with the female part. This may change, since a recent ‘scientific’ study of Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde has concluded there are signs of an equivalent state of arousal, but they are not sure if it represents a pre- or post-coital disposition. It’s typical of academics always to hedge their bets. And it is heart-warming that this particular yoni made the pilgrimage to Compostela in 1998. As a result she has a right to the Coquille St. Jacques badge, which was, conveniently, a symbol of the female sex in the Ancient Orient, particularly around the Black Sea.

Exhibited and published: A India, Portico do Norte, Santiago de Compostela, 1998, no. 307