Wednesday, July 20, 2005

BKBA - Presenting Powerful Penile Political Propaganda

Penis Tree: Fertility Symbol or Political Poster?

Reuters
December 8, 2004

LONDON (Reuters) - At first glance, the Massa Marittima mural looks fairly similar to dozens of other medieval frescoes dotted across Tuscany.

But look closely at the spidery tree that dominates the center of the painting and you notice something peculiar. Its branches are covered in penises.

There are 25 of them in all, of different shapes and sizes, complete with testicles. They hang from the limbs of the tree like leaves fluttering in the breeze.


The mural dates from the 13th century and is still visible on a wall in the Italian town of Massa Marittima where it was discovered during renovation work four years ago.

Until now, it was assumed the phallus tree was a fertility symbol because it stands by a fountain -- the town´s main source of water in medieval times.

But, according to a British-based expert, it is actually a unique piece of political propaganda, commissioned by one Tuscan faction to sully the reputation of another.

"It´s a very clear political poster," said George Ferzoco, director of the Center for Tuscan Studies at the University of Leicester in central England as he unveiled his theory about the picture for the first time.

"It´s a message from the Guelphs, telling people that if the Ghibellines are allowed power they will bring with them heresy, sexual perversion, civic strife and witchcraft."

The Guelphs and Ghibellines were two factions who fought for power in Tuscany and northern Italy for decades during the Middle Ages.

Perhaps the most famous victim of their feuds was the poet Dante, a Guelph expelled from his native Florence in 1302 after a rival Guelph group took power.

CLEAN LIVING AND UPSTANDING

At the time the mural was painted, the Guelphs controlled Massa Marittima, a small town in northwestern Tuscany.

"They presented themselves as the clean living upstanding party in Tuscan politics and it was traditional for them, in launching their attacks on the Ghibellines, to label them as heretics," Ferzoco told Reuters.

"Heretics, according to people in the Middle Ages, practiced sodomy. Hence the phallus tree."


It may seem a cryptic message to the modern mind but Ferzoco says it would have been obvious to the average medieval Tuscan.

"They would have got the message instantly," he said. "They considered things we consider obscene to be perfectly normal, and using a phallus as part of a political message would not have been an issue."

Ferzoco says the robed women standing under the phallus tree are witches -- another curse the Guelphs claimed the Ghibellines would bring to the town.

One of the women appears to be reaching up and placing something in the lower branches of the tree with a stick.

"There was a well-known story in Tuscan folklore about witches removing men´s´ penises and placing them in bird nests in trees, where they would then multiply and take on a life of their own," Ferzoco said.

He says the picture draws on that story and is one of the earliest known depictions of witches in Western art.

SOURCE - http://www.godlikeproductions.com/news/item.php?keyid=8156&category=1&scategory=0



An undated handout photograph shows the Massa Marittima mural in the Italian town Massa Marittima. At first glance the mural looks fairly similar to dozens of other medieval frescoes dotted across Tuscany, but a closer look at the spidery tree which dominates the centre of the painting shows its branches are covered in penises. Until now, it was assumed the phallus tree was a fertility symbol but according to a British-based expert, it is a actually a unique piece of political propaganda, commissioned by one Tuscan faction to sully the reputation of another. REUTERS/University of Leicester/Foto Bruno/HO

1 Comments:

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2:20 PM  

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