Jarai Arap Grave House (Piran Café Post #800)

This is a landmark post for Piran Café, its 800th since its inception early one chilly December morning in 2006. At a loss for how to celebrate or otherwise mark this turning point, I turned to my grandmother for advice. Her suggestion? Symbols of virility, fertility, endurance and strength.

“Pictures of large wooden penises,” she said. “Lots of them.”

I hate disappointing grandma, so I chugged my second generous glass of calvados and got busy searching and eventually found these: eight shots from the Jarai Arap Grave House in Hanoi I snapped back in October 2010. The house sits in a nicely maintained sprawling garden on the grounds of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The day I was there, lots of brides-to-be were on the premises posing for portraits.

There are lots of human figures represented by the carvings, but those depicting couples readying themselves for the act are most prevalent. Symbols of fertility and birth were extremely important in death and, the Jarai (Giarai) believed, in the afterlife as well.



These snaps are also this week’s contribution for Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday on twitter) hosted by Nancie on her website, Budget Travelers Sandbox. When you have few minutes to browse, check out Nancie’s photos and those of others who take part. You’ll see some great photos and visit some wonderful places.


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  1. Michael (@easyhiker101) says

    Hmmm, interesting photos.

  2. recoverythrumylens says

    Very graphic…but quite amazing…

  3. I like your grandma, mine would have said the same thing!
    Life doesn’t end when you’re dead! Glad to see Jamaicans aren’t the only ones seemingly obsessed with making statues with huge phalluses. I like the roughness of these, ours are highly polished.

    1. BobR says

      These folk art rituals fascinate me, and it’s interesting to see that something similar exists half a world away in an entirely different culture. And glad to hear that our grandmas would get along. 🙂

  4. pen4hire says

    That’s quite a grandma. And how handy to have someone to “blame” for your choices. You didn’t say anything about the artist. Looks like folk art, the kind of thing like people building houses out of beer cans.
    Congrats on the 800th post. My slipped by last week before I noticed, but I’ve only been at it since January 2009.

  5. Country Skipper says

    Hahaha! This made me laugh! They really can seem unproportionate at times 🙂

    1. BobR says

      Yes, I guess there is a fine line. 🙂

  6. Leigh says

    Hats off to your grandmother – I think I’d like her.
    Very graphic and really good photos.

  7. Dick Jordan (@talestold) says

    Ha! What a grandmother you have!

  8. Denise Pulis says

    oh wow! I wasn’t expecting that!

  9. Mary @ The World Is A Book says

    I am giggling like a school girl with these pictures! Go Grandma! They’re so graphic yet so interesting you have to take pictures. I bet they sell these in miniature versions for tourists =)

    1. BobR says

      Believe it or not, I didn’t see miniatures for sale. That’s a niche that needs to be filled. 🙂

  10. Cathy Sweeney says

    I don’t think my grandma would have given me that advice. 🙂 Glad yours did — interesting carvings and information.

  11. Nancie M says

    I agree with Cathy, grandma would not have recommended these photos 🙂 Great shots!

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