The Sky Pillar

The news report was bizarre on so many levels. First, the opening salvo: “An amusement park in China has built what it claims is the world’s largest penis.”

That’s right, an amusement park.

Then the eye-popping photo:

The rest of the news story raises more questions than it answers:

The 30ft erection, named Sky Pillar, has been built at Longwan Shaman Amusement Park in Changchun city.

Builders wrapped more than 6,500ft of straw around the steel structure which stands on an altar atop 1,250ft high Qinlong Hill.

“It is a totem of shamanistic culture, which originated in this city,” says the president of the park, Cheng Weiguang.

Legend says a shaman hero named Ewenki vanquished a cruel female ruler and gave her a penis totem, telling her to respect males and not kill them at will.

After this, the ruler set a penis totem on top of the hill, reports the East Asia Economic and Trade News.

Shi Lixue, director of the China Folk Culture Association, backed the project, saying, “It symbolizes our ancestors’ pursuit of happiness and prosperity.”

And, although some tourists said they felt uncomfortable about the statue, others were unmoved.

“It’s just a pillar. I don’t care. It can be a symbol of the park,” said one mother who was visiting the park with her child.

OK, I’m 51 years old, and I’m getting the giggles over the name of the park: Longwan. How appropriate.

Then there’s the wonder of a “shaman amusement park.” Are there flying horse rides? Do talking wolves lead visitors into dark caves? Do they sell peyote buttons or ayahuasca at the refreshment kiosks? Do they have healing huts?

Is the hero Ewenki related to the nomadic Evenki people living in the Tungus region of northern Russia and northern Mongolia, from whom we get the term shaman?

From ancient times in India, the phallus or lingam has been used in the worship of Shiva. In fact, in some iconography, Shiva was depicted as a phallus or cosmic pillar, and is often the focus of the Hindu temple and frequently situated within a yoni, indicating a balance between male and female creative energies. And phallic worship has been practiced in ancient Greece, Rome, Sumer, Egypt, Scandinavia, Japan, and the Americas.

But I’m not sure it so nakedly represented the “pursuit of . . . prosperity” as it apparently does here.

And why does the mythology have Ewenki vanquishing a “cruel female ruler” and telling her to “respect males and not kill them at will”? Is this the old tension between the ancient Goddess religions and the newer ones with male deities? Is it about the conquest of matriarchy?

As titillating as the whole topic is, I really wish I could find more information on this particular, um, erection. I think there’s more here than meets the eye.


Categories: First Nations, Hinduism, Psychology, Shamanism, Travel | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “The Sky Pillar

  1. Jennie

    Oh, the “longwan” is very interesting, indeed, but without either the Chinese characters or the diacritical marks to indicate the actual syllables, it is hard to tell which of the many meanings, some of which ARE somewhat suggestive, and some of which seem very shamanic, it might have. It could range from “weeping dragon” or “playing with the sound of drums” to “swastika lane” or “grinding regret” or even “urine retention pills”. Here is a list of the possible meanings of the syllables that could be written as “longwan” in pinyin:

    隆 lōng sound of drums
    嚨 咙 lóng throat
    巃 lóng steep; precipitous (of mountain)
    曨 lóng bright
    朧 胧 lóng rising moon
    櫳 栊 lóng bar; cage; gratings
    瀧 泷 lóng torrential (rain)
    瓏 珑 lóng tinkling of gem-pendants
    癃 lóng infirmity; retention of urine
    矓 胧 lóng hazy; unclear
    礱 砻 lóng grind; mill
    窿 lóng cavity; hole
    籠 笼 lóng basket; cage
    聾 聋 lóng deaf
    蘢 茏 lóng Polygonum posumbu
    躘 lóng to walk
    隆 lóng grand; intense; prosperous; start (a fire)
    龍 龙 lóng dragon; imperial; Long (a surname)
    儱 lǒng rude; barbarous
    壟 垄 lǒng monopolize
    攏 拢 lǒng collect; draw near to
    隴 陇 lǒng Gansu
    哢 lòng (phonetic); -r + one (chem.)
    弄 lòng lane; alley
    衖 lòng lane; alley

    剜 wān scoop out
    彎 弯 wān bend; bent
    灣 湾 wān bay; gulf
    蜿 wān to move (as snake)
    豌 wān peas
    丸 wán pill
    刓 wán trim
    完 wán to finish; to be over; whole; complete; entire
    汍 wán shed tears
    烷 wán alkane
    玩 wán curios; antiques; to play; to amuse oneself
    紈 纨 wán white; white silk
    芄 wán Metaplexis stauntoni
    頑 顽 wán mischievous; obstinate; to play; stupid; stubborn; naughty
    娩 wǎn complaisant; agreeable
    婉 wǎn graceful; tactful
    宛 wǎn (surname); similar; winding
    惋 wǎn regret, be sorry; alarmed
    挽 wǎn draw; pull; send funeral ode
    晚 wǎn evening; night; late
    澣 wǎn cleanse; bathe
    琬 wǎn ensign of royalty
    畹 wǎn a field of 20 or 30 mu
    皖 wǎn Anhui
    碗 wǎn bowl; cup
    綰 绾 wǎn bind up; string together
    莞 wǎn smile
    菀 wǎn luxuriance of growth
    輓 挽 wǎn draw; pull; send funeral ode
    卍 wàn swastika
    捥 wàn to bend the wrist
    玩 wàn curios; antiques
    翫 wàn play with
    腕 wàn wrist
    萬 万 wàn Wan (surname); ten thousand; a great number

    Aren’t words wonderful things? And before anyone starts to complain about the Chinese using one sound to mean so many different things, I urge you to think for a moment about the English words “strike” and “hit”.

  2. Wikipedia says that Longwan District (simplified Chinese: 龙湾区; pinyin: Lóngwān Qū) is an outlying district or ward of the city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, China. It has an population of some 300,000 people and an area of some 173 square miles. It is famous for private enterprises, especially leather and the metal industry.

    Comparing these characters to those in your list, I see several “longs” that are close to the first element (but don’t match it exactly), and the second element appears to be “bend.” The third is clearly the character for district or ward.

    A Chinese travel site has this (delightfully translated) blurb about a nearby national forest: “Longwanqun National Forest Park is located southeast of Huinan County, Jilin. The area covers 81 square kilometers. The forest area is 68 square kilometers while the waters area is 2 square kilometers. It was segregated into seven areas; seven bays, the waterfall, peaks” ten big scenic areas in the park, the flowing spring, the flowing waterfall, the dangerous mountain peak, the bright lake, the rich forest breath and the primitive volcano landform. The mysterious ecology offers marvelous sight, with the simple and common forest culture, the wetland culture and the volcano culture and is the best destination for sight seeing and to taste various kind of forest region characteristic cooked food.
    There are various activities in the area, the Dalongwan pleasure boat, the bonfire party, the dance entertainment and so on. You may make pre-arrangement for barbeque; select and purchase northeast ginseng, velvet, mountain wild herbs, wild fungus category; taste Longwan folk custom food (Longwan wild cold turtle, shrimp, Longwan crawdad, various seasons mountain treasure wild herbs, mushroom, agarics and so on ). May to October is the best month for traveling every year.”

    So Longwan seems to be old and established enough to have its own “folk custom foods.”

  3. I have only one thing to say: eggplant.

  4. Blushing.


  5. Have you heard of the Cerne Giant in England?

  6. indigo bunting

    Has he ever.

  7. Yes, Deloney, I’m familiar with the Cerne Giant, though my introduction was from a deck of tarot cards that features the image.

    If I ever visit England and see the Giant in person, I fear I’ll get the vapors, right there in the countryside.

  8. Jennie

    I would say that, comparing my list with your characters, that it is clearly “Dragon Bay” or “Dragon Gulf”.

    It is interesting that agarics are noted as being among the “folk custom foods”. Flying with dragons, anyone?


  9. Well, I regularly flew with the dragon who lived under my street when I was four or five. . . .

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