Thursday, 12 March 2015

That Fountain Boy aka Manneken-Pis

I don't know exactly when I became aware of the famous peeing boy fountain, possibly in an art history class I half paid attention to in undergrad or maybe it was earlier than that in a Bugs Bunny cartoon parody. After all that is where I became familiar with the Barber of Seville. Possibly it was more mundane than that and it was something observed in a garden centre one summer as a  child. 
So at first when I was told I had to check out the Manneken-Pis, I didn't immediately recognize what it was I was being directed to. Coming upon it after wandering a bit aimlessly I instantly understood what was before me. Then, I was intrigued to find out more about the history of this bronze statue.

First erected in the 15th century, the Manneken-Pis was an integral part of provided drinking water to the population of Brussels. It was recorded in the 19th century as being dressed with special costumes four times a year. Since it's practical beginnings it has moved into the realm of symbolism in Brussels folklore and an iconic image of the city.

Costumes from around the world have been presented to the College of Mayor and Aldermen and he is dressed on set dates each year (go check him out March 14th, and March 17th!). He has over 900 costumes and many of them can be seen at the Museum of the City of Brussels. I, of course, had to visit and take a photo of each and every costume on display.

It would be about 300 years before Manneken-Pis would have a sister; Jeanneke-Pis, erected in 1987. It is not easily found as it's located recessed in a wall down a narrow alley, that is unless you find yourself bleary-eyed at Delirium Cafe (cause with their beer bible there is no other state to find yourself in) and then you will have easily spotted "Waldo".

Last in the family is the Zinneke-Pis, the dog peeing statue erected in 1998.

I immensely enjoyed hunting out these quirky statues dotted around Brussels main centre. I think they speak of the city itself, it's not a place that takes itself too seriously despite being 'kind of a big deal' in the EU. It's a good adage for life in fact; Take things seriously that need to be taken seriously, but don't forget to have fun.

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