Lucky Statues

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Introduction

We've all seen them, in every corner of the globe, in every town or city, statues are everywhere. Some are massive and known worldwide as a symbol of a nation, for example, the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA. Others are tiny and frequently walked past without a secong glance, for example, the statue of two mice in Philpot Lane, London.

Statue of Liberty
The Philpot Lane Mice, London
Some statues however, cause pedestrians to go out of their way to just touch them. This phenomena is brought about by the statue in question being considered "lucky". Or to be more exact, touching a certain part of the statue is considered to bring good fortune on the person touching it.
In this blog I shall write about some of these "Lucky Statues". This blog will be in no way exhaustive. Rather instead, a brief snapshot. There are probably statues around the world that are only known as lucky by the local population, and virtually unknown elsewhere. 
There is even a phrase for the act of touching a statue for luck, it's known as "Statue Rubbing".

I'm sure, dear reader, that you will know of one such statue in your vicinity, please don't berate me if I neglect to feature it.

The Bull of Wall Street

Charging Bull, Wall Street, NYC

We start of with a slightly unsavoury example. The Raging Bull statue in Wall Street, New York city was created in the wake of the stock market crash in 1987, dubbed Black Monday. According to the Italian artist it was designed to inspire people to persevere despite hard times and to carry on until the future is better.

It was initially installed illegally outside the New York Stock Exchange. It was removed and impounded by the NYPD, but due to public outcry it was reinstalled two blocks away under a temporary permit. Technically this permit to display is still in place.

It is considered by New Yorkers to be lucky as long as when passing you touch the bull's testicles.

Note the lighter shade on part of the bull's anatomy

The tatue has been vandalised many times over the years as a protest against officialdom and other causes, most recently by Extinction Rebellion who spilled fake blood over the bull.


LOCATION - Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004, United States

John Harvard

John Harvard was one of the founders of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The college was founded in 1636, although an inscription on the plinth of the statue states 1638, this was actually the date of John Harvard's major bequest to the school.

John Harvard
Sherman Hoar, inspiration for the statue.

The person depicted on the statue, cast in 1884, was modelled on a student of that time as no records of John Harvard's stature or features existed. The student, Sherman Hoar, was however descended from one of Harvards early presidents and from the one of the designers of the Declaration of Independence.

The statue was originally located in front of the Memorial hall, but moved to it's present position in 1920.

Rubbing the toe.

It is said that rubbing the toe of the statue will bring good luck. However this tradition was only started in the 1990's by tourist guides. Most students just remove their caps when passing the statue.


LOCATION - Harvard Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Molly Malone

Molly Malone was a fictional character from Dublin featured in a song written around 1876, although there are suggestions it was based on a much earlier folk song.

Molly is a derivative form of the name Margaret or Mary. There have been many "Molly" Malones born in Dublin over the centuries but no evidence to suggest one of them is the inspiration behind the song. This didn't stop the Dublin Millennium Commission in 1988, proclaiming that Molly did in fact exist and that she died on 13th June 1699, and thereafter setting this date as "Molly Malone Day".

Molly Malone aka "The Tart with the Cart" 

The statue was originally placed in Grafton Street in Dublin to commemorate the first millenium of that "Fair City". The attire worn by "Molly" is indicative of street vendors of that time, who according to the song would call "Cockles and Mussels, Alive, Alive, O".

The statue was moved in order to build the city's tram based light rail system.

Locally, the statue is known affectionately as either "The Tart with the Cart" or "The Trollop with the Scallops"

It is thought to bring good luck if, in passing, one touches Molly's bosom.


LOCATION - Tourist Office, Suffolk Street, Dublin, Ireland.

Porcellino

Porcellino is a bronze statue and fountain of a wild boar. The original is in Florence, Italy, however there are many replicas around the world.

It was cast in 1634 and initially sat in Rome. It was moved by the Medici family in around the middle of the 16th century to Florence.

It was modelled on a similar statue in marble which today sits in the Uffizi museum in the same city.

Il Porcellino in Florence

It is thought to be lucky to place a coin in the pig's mouth, and to rub it's snout to ensure a return to Florence, in a similar vein as throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return to Rome.

This tradition was first recorded by a Scottish traveller in 1766, and the ensuing years have kept the nose of the statue in a state of permanent shine. Although the public statue is in fact a copy, whilst the original is safe in the Museo Stefano Bardini in the same city.

The snout of Porcellino

LOCATION - Piazza del Mercato Nuevo, Firenze, Italy.

Gregory of Nin

Gregory was a Croatian bishop of the town of Nin, which is near to the coastal town of Zadar, on the Dalmatian Coast. He lived in the Tenth Century.

He was instrumental in bringing the Croatian language into church services. They had previously only been conducted in Latin, being under the jurisdiction of Rome. The majority of the population did not understand Latin and so Gregory took it as his mission to ensure the people understood the word of God.

Gregory of NIn, Split, Croatia

Originally placed in the city's Diocletian Palace in 1929, the statue was moved by occupying Italian troops in 1941 to an area outside the city. In 1954 it was moved to it's current position by the "Golden Gate", a tourist area and park in Split. There was a major restoration between 2013 and 2015.

It is thought to be lucky to rub Gregory's big toe when passing by on the steps you can see in the photo above.


LOCATION - Ul. kralja Tomislava, Split, Croatia

Summary

I cannot, in one short blog, feature the myriad of "lucky" statues around the world. I'm pretty certain that at least every major city has one. Edinburgh, for example, has the small statue of a dog called "Greyfriars Bobby" that memorialises the dog that stayed by his master's grave for many months. You touch his nose for luck.

This blog, therefore, is a mere snapshot into the global phenomenon of statues bringing luck

My personal favourite is the statue of Gregory of Nin, mainly because during the 1990's I was working delivering supplies from the UK to British Forces based in Croatia during the Balkan Conflict. Whilst waiting for a ferry in Split port my colleagues and I would stroll around the city. We used to walk past the statue, touching it's toe before browsing the local market. A place that, at that time, you could buy everything from a toothbrush to a Kalashnikov. Scary place at times, especially in the evenings. Maybe the toe was lucky, who knows, although I am here and survived, so make of that what you wish !


I made a quiz about this subject a couple of months ago. It can be found HERE.

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Level 60
Sep 10, 2022
Very interesting blog. I've heard that touching the tail of the Buc-ee the Beaver statue (mascot of a roadside country store / gas station for all you non-Americans out there) will bring you good luck, though I'd bet my hat it's just word-of-mouth advertising.
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Level 75
Sep 11, 2022
Thats a very good point Qy, I wonder how many of these were just to encourage tourism ? Even going back centuries there were travellers and explorers that would spend money when passing through places.

Plus your example demonstrates that there are indeed "lucky" statues almost everywhere.

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Level 43
Sep 10, 2022
We can all agree that Toowise is one of the best active bloggers in JetPunk :D
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Level 75
Sep 11, 2022
Shush now, you'll make me blush !
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Level 48
Sep 11, 2022
The best. No exceptions.
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Level 75
Sep 12, 2022
Thank you, but I know there are better bloggers out there.
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Level 68
Sep 13, 2022
Very interesting blog as always.

Fun French Fact: in the Père Lachaise Cemetery (the largest in Paris), you can find the tomb effigy of Victor Noir, which was initialy a Republican symbol but has now became a fertility symbol. I'll let you guess which part of his body is rubbed... Wiki page

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Level 75
Sep 13, 2022
I almost featured that one, but was worried I'd already gone too far with the two risque ones I used.