Phallic processions

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Steel and fiberglass phallus mikoshi (parade floats) (in the foreground and back right, respectively) at Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki, Japan. These are two of the three matsuri carried in the festival.

Phallic processions are public celebrations featuring a phallus, a representation of an erect penis.

Ancient Greece[edit]

Called phallika in ancient Greece, these processions were a common feature of Dionysiac celebrations; they advanced to a cult center, and were characterized by obscenities and verbal abuse.[1] The display of a fetishized phallus was a common feature.[2][3] In a famous passage in chapter 4 of the Poetics, Aristotle formulated the hypothesis that the earliest forms of comedy originated and evolved from "those who lead off the phallic processions", which were still common in many towns at his time.[1][4][5]

Modern Greece[edit]

The city of Tyrnavos holds an annual festival, a traditional phallophoric event on the first days of Lent.[6]

In August 2000, to promote a production of Aristophanes' The Clouds, a traditional Greek phallic procession was organized, with a 25-foot (7.6 m) long phallus paraded by the cast with the accompaniment of Balkan music; the phallic device was banned by the staff of the Edinburgh Festival.[citation needed]


Similar parades of Shinto origin have long been part of the rich traditions of matsuri (Japanese festivals). Although the practice is no longer common, a few, such as Kawasaki's Kanamara Matsuri and Komaki's Hōnen Matsuri, continue to this day. Typically, the phallus is placed in a mikoshi, a portable Shinto shrine.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dunkle, Roger Archived 2007-08-22 at the Wayback Machine The origins of comedy Archived 2008-03-24 at the Wayback Machine in Introduction to Greek and Roman Comedy
  2. ^ Pickard-Cambridge 1962, 144–62
  3. ^ Reckford 1987, 443–67
  4. ^ Poetics, 1449a10-13 quotation:

    Be that as it may, Tragedy - as also Comedy - was at first mere improvisation. The one originated with the authors of the Dithyramb, the other with those of the phallic songs, which are still in use in many of our cities.

  5. ^ Mastromarco, Giuseppe: (1994) Introduzione a Aristofane (Sesta edizione: Roma-Bari 2004). ISBN 88-420-4448-2 p.3
  6. ^ The Annual Phallus Festival in Greece, Der Spiegel, English edition, Retrieved on 15-12-08


  • Richardson, N. J., The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Oxford, 1974, pp. 214–15
  • O’Higgins, Laurie, Women and Humor in Classical Greece. Cambridge, 2003. p. 57
  • For the outrageous practice of "abuse from the wagons" see Fluck, H., Skurrile Riten in griechischen Kulten. Diss. Freiburg. Endingen, 1931., pp. 34–51
  • Pickard-Cambridge, Arthur, Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy. 2nd edition, rev. by T.B.L. Webster. Cambridge, 1962.
  • Reckford, Kenneth, Aristophanes’ Old-and-New Comedy. Chapel Hill, 1987. pp. 463–65
  • [Ralph M. Rosen] (2006) Comic Aischrology and the Urbanization of Agroikia, pp. 219–238
  • The Problem of Origins in Cornford, F. M. the Origin of Attic Comedy. Ed. T. H. Gaster. Intro Jeffrey Henderson. Ann Arbor: U of MI P, 1993.
  • Eric Csapo Riding the Phallus for Dionysus: Iconology, Ritual, and Gender-Role De/Construction Phoenix, Vol. 51, No. 3/4 (Autumn–Winter, 1997), pp. 253–295 doi:10.2307/1192539

External links[edit]