Oct 19, 2015

The Top 10 Public Penises of Islam

Islam doesn't have quite the beefcake potential of Hinduism or Jainism.  No androgynous gods, no naked holy men.  The Quranic prohibition of idol-worship is often interpreted to mean "no human figures, period," and even when humans are allowed, propriety forbids bare chests, let alone nudity.

But there are remnants of the penis-obsessed Graeco-Roman culture and  muscular transplants from the neoclassical greats of Europe -- and, sometimes, contemporary Muslim artists get away with arguing that the only way to depict strength, honor, liberation, or war is through muscle. Nothing sexual is intended.

One assumes.

In fact, I found at least 20 impressively nude or muscular statues, reliefs, and other public works of art in the Islamic world (countries with 50% or higher Muslim populations).

 Here are the first 10, arranged roughly from west to east.

1. Ceuta (a Spanish colony on the coast of Morocco): The Pillars of Hercules, two mountains standing guard at the entrance to the Mediterranean, is memorialized in a statue of Hercules.

2.Algeria was under French domination for over 100 years, from 1830 to 1962, so one might expect some equivalent of the Luxembourg Gardens or the Musee d'Orsay.  There isn't a lot, but in Jijel, about 350 km from Algiers, you can see Le Pêcheur (The Fisherman), a boy mending his nets.

3.Tunisia, likewise, was under French domination from 1881 to 1956, but about the only significant beefcake art is, oddly a statue of the first president, Habib Bourguiba, in Ksar Hellal.  He's liberating four oppressed peasants, including two muscular, half-naked ones.

4. Libya was the site of the Roman Province of Tripolitana, so there are many statues of muscular men, now in the National Museum.  This one came from the Hadriatic Baths.

More after the break.

5. Much of the rich beefcake art of ancient Egypt has been scattered through Europe and the U.S., but some remains, like this one outside the Alexandria Library.

6-7. And in the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo.

8. Only 16% of the population of Israel is Muslim, but it's in the Middle East, so I'm including it anyway.

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, you can see The Great Warrior of Montauban, a beefy, muscular guy, naked but lacking a penis, carrying a sword.

It actually has nothing to do with the Middle East;Montauban is in France.  It was sculpted by Antoine Bourdelle to commemorates the Franco-Prussian War.

9. Martyr's Square in Beirut, Lebanon is topped by Renato Mazzacurati's memorial. Freedom is leading the half-naked soul of a martyr to Paradise while his body lies prostrate below.  He's not supposed to be armless, or ridden with bullet holes -- he's a favorite target for revolutionaries.

10. The extremely conservative countries of the Arabian Peninsula are generally lacking in artistic representations of humans of any sort, so it's surprising to find Coup de Tete by Zinedine Zidane in Doha, Qatar.  It's a 16-foot tall depiction of two guys, one punching the other in the stomach.

Apparently it commemorates the World Cup in soccer.

They're not nude, and they're not hugging, but at least they're two guys.

See also: The Gay Arab World; and Farshad: A Gay Muslim Surprise in Brittany