Within the living museum of Simply Bhutan in the country’s capital of Thimphu, you’ll find a garden rather unique in its flora.
Phalluses are not an uncommon sight in Bhutan. The symbol is meant to bring good luck, promote harmony, and ward off evil spirits. They’re painted in and on buildings, displayed on the headgear of Atsaras (masked clowns), and even used as scarecrows. A traditional housewarming ritual involves hoisting a basket of wooden phalluses onto the roof on the new home.
The symbols date back to the 15th century, when the eccentric Buddhist teacher Drukpa Kunley, known as the “Divine Madman,” popularized the symbol when he brought Buddhism to Bhutan (showcased by his nearby “penis-focused monastery,” Chimi Lhakhang).
The Garden of Phallus is found in Simply Bhutan, a museum and photography studio built to resemble a Bhutanese village. Wooden phalluses mingle with plants in front of a mural which features several hanging smiling faces whose noses look an awful lot like, well, we’ll let you guess what they look like.