Sunday, July 6, 2008

I've heard of 'girding up your loins' - but this is ridiculous!

I'm both appalled and fascinated to discover something I never knew before.

Husband and wife Francisco and Casilda Figueiredo are among the last exponents of a traditional Portuguese handicraft -- making ornamental ceramic penises.

For more than three decades, the couple have carefully shaped thousands of ceramic male organs, moulding them into upright shapes and painting them in life-like colours for export to Germany, France and North America.

Francisco and Casilda, aged 68 and 65, still toil away in a humble village workshop in the Caldas da Rainha region, about 100 km (60 miles) north of Lisbon, but say the tradition is dying out.

"The days of the ceramics trade here are numbered, I see no possibility of survival," Francisco said as he prepared moulds of the couple's top-of-the-range two-foot phallic-shaped bottles in his workshop. "It will never be like it was in the past."

The bottle sells for 15 euros (11.8 pounds)

The tradition is said to have started in Caldas da Rainha when King Dom Luis, who ruled from 1861 to 1889, suggested that local potters make something more interesting.

A renowned caricaturist, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, gave the initial inspiration, prompting Caldas da Rainha to expand on its tradition as a pottery centre.

"Nobody knows exactly what started the tradition, they say it was Dom Luis, but I don't know if it's true or not," said Francisco.

The traditional craft has faced a slow decline as buyers in Portugal and beyond become more liberal and the figures lose their ability to provoke.

Uh . . . um . . . er . . . well, yes!

I mean, what can one say to that?

I suppose they're useful if one's sex life has gone all to pot(tery). At least the ceramic version should have greater "staying power" than the fleshly variety - although they might be a bit chilly! Is that, perhaps, where the term "frigidity" originated?

And as for them being used as bottles . . . the mind boggles! Is that where someone derived the practice of asking for so many "fingers" of alcohol? Was this measuring something rather more . . . ah . . . interesting than the depth of liquid in one's glass?

Are the ceramic organs varied to suit the tastes of different buyers? Are those for the Jewish and Muslim markets circumcised? I should think that'd make a vas deferens to their sales . . .

There's obviously more to this than is apparent at first glans!



phlegmfatale said...

Oh, Peter.

Those below-the-belt puns are not up to your usual rigid standard. Still, it's sad to hear this once-proud art is experiencing flaccid sales and falling interest in the marketplace.

Ambulance Driver said...

I'm here to tell you...being the model for those molds was sheer torture.

I'm still finding bits of plaster in odd places.

Peter said...

AD - so that's why they put the cork in the end!



Anonymous said...

In Bhutan, it is common to see penises painted on buildings , complete with a heavenly stream of semen - apparently it is a good luck charm-and as good as any, I would say, to celebrate the great mystery of creation.

al fin said...

Interesting. But why does he manufacture only the miniatures? Why not go for life-sized versions instead?