Lammas (Norfolk)

Found amongst rubble of a wall of a seventeenth-century house, this broken sandstone figure (just under 30 cms high) is now in the care of Norfolk Museums service (Bridewell Museum), and is unique in being clothed.

She is raising her skirt to reveal a slit-vulva around which the pubic hair is, unusually, depicted.
She is neither bald nor emaciated.

 

 

 

This small carving could well have been modelled on a large and famous marble on one of the town gates of Milan (below), where a handsomely Roman-looking matron raises her dress in determinedly apotropaic manner to keep evil and danger out of the town - or to comb her pubic hair - unless it is a knife - or a douche - she holds in her right hand ? (Some have thought it to be a phallus!)

The Porta Tosa sculpture in turn recalls the exhibitionist figurines of the minor Greek/Egyptian deity Baubô, who assisted Persephone by doing the same thing and snapping her out of her Plutonic depression.

Gates, of course, are liminal structures, and often feature figures of one kind or another. Exhibitionist figures have been reported also on mediæval town gates in Barcelona and Antwerp.

However, in a short paper entitled 'An Exhibitionist Carving from Lammas, Norfolk', in Bulletin No. 27 of the CBA Group VI, J.A. Jerman suggested that the Lammas plaque was originally male and was subsequently and drastically altered:
'The shoddiness of the work would point rather to a deplorable practical joker who took a genuine 14th century plaque, or segment of one, and assaulted it sexually, so to speak. The carving is undoubtedly genuine; only the castration and subsequent infliction of the ugly gash is spurious.'

 

 

for a remarkable Italian
phallic mural, click here

 

 

 

 


photo by Norfolk Museums Service

Porta Tosa, Milan