Prompted by Sunday’s T Magazine article on Bhutan, and by your response to my first Postcard From Bhutan, I thought you might like to see more of its attractions, these man-made and as lovely as the country’s natural scenery.
The tiny Buddhist kingdom’s thousands of temples and monasteries are customarily decorated within an inch of their yak butter lamps. Those butter lamps can be a problem, however, as nearly every old temple–some dating to the 15th century–has burned and been re-built.
You want me to hurry up and get to those phalluses, don’t you. Patience, we’re working up to it, if that is the expression.
The historical figure I took a shine to was the Divine Madman. Why are you not surprised. Below is the door to his temple. Photographs are not allowed inside temples, but we were lucky on this day to be able to attend a fertility blessing ceremony for a fellow traveler. Phallus alert: The blessing is partly accomplished by a monk (gently) bonking bless-ee on the head with a 10-inch wooden phallus. Let me explain.
The late 15th century Tibetan lama Drukpa Kunley was a character, to say the least, known for his bizarre, outrageous, and often bawdy behavior. He had me at namaste. But hey, he got people’s attention and spread Buddhism across the land. The people revere him. He was also quite (ahem) the “swordsman,” as my mother would say, reputedly bringing his upright brand of enlightenment to thousands of women. The phallus was, and is, promoted as a symbol of power, fertility, and good luck.
If you see what I mean.
Notice the lovely earth tones.
…Also used for marketing purposes on shop buildings. It keeps the customers coming.
I can’t believe I said that.
The temples and religious buildings, signified by the dark red stripe around the exterior, are phallus free. Some decorum must be maintained after all.
Here is the Buddha sitting under the tree at left with the prayer flags. So beautiful in the dappled sunlight.
Even the trucks are decorated.
All this beauty can be exhausting.
He is just resting his eyes.
Thank you for your visit today, and please kindly exit through the gift shop…
More Bhutan and other recent adventures on my Instagram here. Read Jody Rosen’s excellent and comprehensive article in Sunday’s T Magazine here.
Next: Carolyne Roehm’s lovely tribute to Oscar de la Renta, and what it was like for a little girl from Missouri in Oscar’s atelier in swingin’ 70s New York.