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Touching Bronze Statues For Luck


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 21, 2001
This superstition seems to be widespread. How did it originate?

Not just statues of religious figures or others that might be thought to confer a blessing - four generations of Toronto parents have encouraged their children to touch Timothy Eaton, founder of a department store.

Usually, a specific part of the statue has to be touched. For Eaton and John Harvard, it's the toe; for the statue of Juliet at Verona, it's her right breast.

Even the bronze orangutan at the Toronto Zoo is kept shiny by people petting and rubbing it.
theres also the bronze statue of churchill in the house of commons.

mp's rub the statues foot for l*ck before making a speech
A museum in Birmingham (England) has an old bronze Buddha statue from India. It's oxydised black all over, except for the fingertips of one hand, which remain shiny. I assume that's due to people touching it there.
Yup, I've rubbed the toe of Churchill on a visit to the House of Commons. The statue is right by the door and its forward foot is shiny where peeps have touched it. The polished-looking bit is clearly visible on photos of it.

There are lots of bronze statues in Szeged, s. Hungary, where I lived in the winter, but very little signs of touching or rubbing although many are situated in pedestrian areas at ground level. They'd have been nicked for scrap in certain other countries. ;)
'Lewd rubbing' shuts Paris statue

Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris has fenced off a famous tomb to prevent lewd acts being performed on a statue.

The effigy of 19th Century journalist known as Victor Noir has long been popular with women visitors.

This is partly due to his reputation as a romantic figure, and partly because of the effigy's design.

Officials concerned about damage to the icon's groin area have erected a fence around the grave, and a sign prohibiting indecent rubbing.

Noir - whose real name was Yvan Salman - was killed by Pierre Bonaparte, a great-nephew of the Emperor Napoleon, after bearing him a challenge to a duel.

According to the story, he was due to get married the day after he was killed.

The statue shows Noir in a frock coat and trousers lying flat on his back, with a distinct enlargement in the groin.

The effigy has been held as an aid to love or fertility.

It is said that a woman who kisses the lips of the prostrate statue and slips a flower into the upturned top hat will find a husband by the end of the year.

The new sign warns: "Any damage caused by graffiti or indecent rubbing will be prosecuted."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Well done, Lady S. I was about to search for that reference myself, but you beat me to it!

(Whereupon, this thread slides into the usual lubricious depths of Forteana...)
:lol: What bad women!

One of the statues in Szeged (I don't have a photo) is of a young woman whose breasts are apparently clothed in a thin blouse, with the obvious physiological result in a cold Hungarian winter. :roll:
I was frankly surprised that her boobs hadn't been rubbed. They semed an obvious target, or are Hungarians particularly respectful? ;)
On Moscow Metro, there is a station called Ploschad Rovolutsii (Revolution Square) decorated with bronze statues of various heroic figures. One shows a partisan and his dog, and the dog's nose is always shiny as travellers always give him a friendly pat as they pass.
I was lucky enough to see the Giacometti exhibition in Budapest in March and I swooned over the Cat and Dog bronzes. All behind glass, of course, but crying out for a rub.

Bronze is a friendly medium. It shows every loving touch. :)
Next to the Feldernhalle at Odeonsplatz in the fine city of Munich, there are some bronze lions holding shields, each shield has another lion's head with a shiny nose because of the locals rubbing them as they pass. Nearly everyone does it. Quite comical in a city as conservative and down-to-earth as Muenchen. Apparently it started as a mark of defiance against the nazis. The site is bang opposite where Hitler's Bierkeller Putsch was put down, and during the war there was a permanent SS guard at the site of the (ahem) "martyrdom". There's also a bronze wild boar outside the hunting museum on Neuhauser Strasse round the corner, with a shiny tongue.

Some more 'rubbed bronzes' and pics of those lions here:

Ta, that whole page is interesting as are the links off it which include the bloke with the well-rubbed groin. 8)

I love the Dodgers' Alley story. :D

I'd like to go there and see the lions.
In Springfield, Illinois, at the tomb of Abraham Lincoln, there is a huge bronze head of the President in front of the entrance, which is dark except for the nose, which is shiny because it's supposedly good luck to rub his nose. I remember doing it myself as a little kid, on a trip there, not really knowing what luck meant, but because everyone else was doing it.
This is one of my favourite statues, outside @Bristol. It's very popular with kids (and stoned adults), who are free to climb all over it :). Whether or not this is for luck, I'm not sure...

Beetle, by Nicola Hicks

On the other side of the square there's one of Cary Grant, life size and not on a plinth, so he appears as if walking along - lots of people have their pics taken, arm around his shoulders, chatting to him, etc.
stu neville said:
This is one of my favourite statues, outside @Bristol. It's very popular with kids (and stoned adults), who are free to climb all over it :). Whether or not this is for luck, I'm not sure...

Beetle, by Nicola Hicks

On the other side of the square there's one of Cary Grant, life size and not on a plinth, so he appears as if walking along - lots of people have their pics taken, arm around his shoulders, chatting to him, etc.

The beetle used to have antenni, didn't it, but they kept getting knocked off.
I'm very fond of the swimming Jack Russell dogs that they have dotted about.

Back OT, rubbing the fat belly of Hotei is thought to bring luck.
As is the belly of the laughing buddha (picture here)

I like the Feldernhalle story, because it's not your ordinary run-of-the-mill 'good luck' explanation.
There is a statue of a saint (or Jesus) on Charles Bridge in Prague whose foot is rubbed shiney by people touching his foot.
lemonpie said:
As is the belly of the laughing buddha (picture here)

The figure in lemonpie's link represents the Coming Buddha, who arrives on Earth in the future, not the original or historical Buddha. Interestingly, the Buddha statue that gets touched in the Birmingham museum also depicts this person, albeit in a very different style. On this page http://www.bmag.org.uk/exhibitions/radiant_buddha/ it's the tall standing statue in the old b&w photo.

Is this just coincidence, or there something special about touching statues of the Coming Buddha?
It must be something Slavic.

I was in Budapest a few months ago. Up on Castle Hill, on the west bank of the Danube, there's a splendid equestrian statue of some Hussar type.

My mates and I were seated at a nearby restaurant watching a tour group being shown the statue. I couldn't hear what was being said, but when the guide had finished his spiel, several female members of the group clambered awkwardly onto the statue's pedestal and reached under the stallion's nethers. All of this was accompanied by much giggling and use of cameras.

Intrigued, I wandered over.

The horse's (very) male danglies were polished bright, presumably by the sweaty paws of generations of tittering tourists.



Sharp eyes will note that the glittering spuds also have patches, presumably repairs to damage done by shell splinters in WWII.

Caresses or shrapnel? I know which I'd prefer. ;)

maximus otter
People across various cultures will rub certain parts of certain statues for luck. I just found this blog post which I think is of fortean interest. ...

Here's a link to what I'm pretty certain is the blog in question:


For the record ... The photo is of Victor Noir's grave in Paris.

It appears visitors are in the habit of rubbing the tips of his statue's shoes as well, but there's no mention of any superstition / association with the shoes. :dunno:
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Here's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek review of statue touching / burnishing habits and protocol, in the context of American roadside attractions and oddities ...
Statue Burnishing Etiquette
Vacationers want to know: Is it all right to touch this statue? Is it "lucky" to touch it? How vigorously should I rub? Where should I touch it for maximum benefit?

After years of research and looking at countless statues, we've assembled this list of burnishing guidelines ...

FULL STORY: https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/16084
Bump ...

Regarding the Churchill and Thatcher statues in the House of Commons ... This 2013 article is focused on wear and tear from superstitious touching.

Churchill and Thatcher statues 'under threat' from touching by MPs
Monuments could be roped off to stop tradition of MPs touching feet for luck as they enter Commons

Historic statues of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher could be roped off to stop MPs touching their feet for luck.

There is a tradition of politicians laying hands on the images of former prime ministers as they enter the Commons chamber.

But the parliamentary authorities have warned that the statues are now "seriously under threat" from wear and tear. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/02/churchill-thatcher-statues-mps-touching

Can anyone confirm whether the statues ended up being roped off to evade touching?
On our recent trip to Prague we passed a statue on Charles Bridge with many patches on two bronze plaques that had been rubbed. On googling it turned out that you should rub the back of the man being thrown off the bridge. Many people (especially Japanese tourists) were rubbing any patches that had previously been rubbed. I have no doubt that many had no idea why they were doing it.

I looked it up and the info is here: http://www.prague.net/blog/article/26/make-a-wish-on-the-charles-bridge
I took this photo some years ago: at the exit from the Sterkfontein caves in the Cradle of Humankind area here in South Africa, there is a bust of Robert Broom, the nose shiny from being touched for good luck:


But then, the guides tell you about the tradition and encourage it, so it is a bit of an artificial thing.

Then there is this statue in Prague...

There was a bronze calf in the King's Manor quad when I was doing finals. I remember making the pilgrimage to rub its snout!
Only now I'm trying to find it I'm wondering if I aimagined it :(