Nortina’s Egyptian Travel Diaries (#AtoZChallenge): “X” is for SphinX

So this post was almost titled “X-rated” for some highly sexualized statuettes we spotted in the gift shop at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Call me a prude, but given the conservative culture in Egypt today as it relates to sexuality, I was quite shocked to see something so explicit…

statuette of Egyptian god with large erect penis

After doing some research, I learned that this is the Ancient Egyptian fertility god Min, who is often depicted with an erect penis. I guess the disproportionately large penis is to show his potency. Legend has it that women would touch the erect penis in hopes of getting pregnant.

Now I’m not saying I touched it, but “shark week” did not come at the scheduled time the following month, and I nearly lost my mind. There’s no way, I thought, there’s simply no way!

So is it real? The legend had to come from some truth, right? All I know is I’m not going anywhere near that penis again because I’m not having any babies I didn’t ask for.

I’ll stick with the God I know, thank you!

By the way, Min wasn’t the only sexually explicit figurine we saw. Earlier that day, while shopping in one of the stores in the market, I spotted a whole shelf of phallic incense holders, and the shelf below it had incense holders depicting various sexual positions. There were sensual ones, such as the man behind the woman cupping her breasts, and others more pornographic in nature, such as the woman positioned face down, ass up, and the hole for the incense stick exactly where you’re thinking.

I didn’t take a picture of those, as the shopkeeper was lurking over my shoulder every five minutes, and I didn’t want him to think I was interested in buying any of them. What would Mom think?

So after all that, what can I say about the Sphinx, which our tour guide adorably pronounced Sphin-kis?

Well, after our arduous climb up the Great Pyramid and our ride on the camels, we stopped for a photo op with the Sphinx, where I was almost conned into letting a stranger take a picture of me “kissing the Sphinx” with my phone until I remembered our tour guide’s words (“They’ll take your picture then charge you money to get your phone back”) and quickly snatched it from him. He seemed a little offended by that, saying, “I’m not going to take your phone. I promise,” but we all know men can’t keep promises. Plus I was more offended that he assumed I was interested in taking a selfie of myself kissing the Sphinx. I’m trying to make memories here, not be cute for Instagram!

So here are some pictures I took myself.

By the way, have you ever wondered which pharaoh the Great Sphinx was built for? I’ve always thought it was Ramesses II. For one, he’s built many colossal monuments in his likeness. But my thinking is also slightly skewed by the film The Prince of Egypt, which portrays a Ramesses desperate to eclipse the greatness of his father by building a bigger, greater Egypt.

Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?

If you said Khafre, you’d be correct! Yes, the builder of the second tallest of the pyramids (that looks taller but is not in fact taller than the Great Pyramid) also built the Sphinx in his image, and it sits guard right in front of his pyramid!

Can you see the resemblance?


“A” is for Arrival
“B” is for Buyer’s Remorse
“C” is for Cruisin’ the River Nile
“D” is for Delays, Delays, Delays
“E” is for Empty Tombs
“F” is for Fragrance
“G” is for Great Pyramid of Giza
“H” is for Hatshepsut
“I” is for Island Temple of Philae
“J” is for Just Engaged!
“K” is for Kom Ombo
“L” is for Luxor
“M” is for Museums and Mummies
“N” is for Nefertari
“O” is for Osiris, Set, and Horus: Gods of Egypt
“P” is for Pizza Hut Fail
“Q” is for Queen Cleopadrat
“R” is for Ramesses
“S” is for Seti I
“T” is for Traffic
“U” is for Unfinished Tombs
“V” is for Valley of the Kings/Queens
“W” is for Wigs

This April for the A to Z Challenge, I’m sharing my experience of traveling to Egypt last month. These posts likely won’t be in chronological order, depending on what memory each letter strikes up, but if you’d like to follow me on this journey, subscribe below.

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