Sheela Na Gigs are an oddity in the history of erotic art. Not only are they thought to have been made during the Middle Ages, a time when there was extreme Christian censorship of nudity and eroticism in art, though they are also predominantly found around the last place we would expect; on churches!
There are a wide variety of Sheela Na Gigs. They are usually figurative carvings that depict a woman sitting with her legs open spreading her genitals wide with her hands for all to see.
Sheela Na Gigs are usually found above doorways and windows on Medieval churches and castles in Northern Europe, predominantly Ireland and Britain.
The eroticism is undeniable, though it is doubtful that these carving were intended to arouse. There are many theories as to their purpose. According to SheelaNaGig.org the following theories are being discussed :
- An Artifact of Pagan Survival
- An Example of the Goddess
- A Fertility Figure
- A Warning Against Lust
- Protection Against Evil
There are wonderful articles on SheelaNaGig.org discussing the pros and cons of these theories, as well as a directory of where they can be found.