May 17, 2014

The Penis Cemetery of Iran

You're not going to Iran anytime soon; the ultra-conservative government has made same-sex relations a crime punishable by death.

And even if you could go, you would probably spend all of your time in Tehran, with maybe a side trip to Isfahan.  You probably wouldn't take the 600 mile trip northeast around the Caspian Sea, to the Turkmen-speaking province of Golestan.

But if you did, you could see some Turkmen muscle.

And the Khalid e Nabi Cemetery.

It's a field covered with over 600 standing stones, between 3 and 16 feet tall, in the shape of erect penises.  There are also some that look like women's breasts.

According to legend, the pre-Islamic prophet Khalid bin Sinan, who has a mausoleum nearby, was being chased by evildoers, and asked God to turn them into stone.

Another legend says that after Khalid died, they started worshipping the sun, and got turned to stone as punishment.  Apparently God selected a phallic shape to make their punishment more humiliating.

According to archaeologists, they are gravestones erected between 500 and 1000 years ago, perhaps by the Goklan tribe, and they're meant to represent human figures wearing caps.

They don't look anything like traditional Turkmen caps to me.

Official tourist literature from the puritanical Iranian government doesn't mention the phallic cemetery, just the tomb of Khalid e Nabi.

During the last 10 years, about half of the stones have disappeared.  Maybe locals, worried that they are distracting religious pilgrims to the shrine, have been carrying them off at night.

See also: The Penis Shrine of Thailand.; The Penis Valley of Turkey