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Manneken Pis ("The Little Urinating Boy")
Manneken Pis ("The Little Urinating Boy") Review
This cocky emblem of Brussels has drawn sightseers for centuries but after all the hype—after all, this is an image that launched a thousand tchotchkes—you may be underwhelmed by the minuscule statue of the peeing boy. The first mention of the Manneken dates from 1377, and he's said to symbolize what Belgians think of the authorities, especially those of occupying forces. The present version was commissioned from noted sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy in 1619. It is a copy; the original was seized by French soldiers in 1747. In restitution, King Louis XV of France was the first to present Manneken Pis with a gold-embroidered suit. The statue now has 517 other costumes for ceremonial occasions, an ever-increasing collection whose recent benefactors include John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper, and his own personal dresser. On one or two days of the year, he spouts wine or beer, rather than water. A female version set up by an enterprising restaurateur, the Jeanneke Pis, can be found off the Rue des Bouchers but has been ranked as much a disappointment as the little gentleman.
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