Antwerp Moustaches & Bottoms

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Hand-werpen ~ Antwerpen ~ Throwing Hands. Remember the legend about how the Roman hero Silvius Brabo killed the giant Druoon Antigoon and threw one of his hands in the river? The one that inspired the decoration on the stone wall of MAS Museum with three thousand handjes? That’s him guarding the Main Square (Grote Markt), standing proud on top of his fountain, Brabo. If you are curious, you can read the full story here. There are other, probably more credible versions about the origins of the name of Antwerpen but only Brabo became a legend, a statue and a fountain, so he gets the honours.

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On our way to Grote Markt we found this naughty statuette called ‘Den Deugniet‘ – The Rascal. It is lurking at the corner of the Oudaan and Korte Gasthuisstraat to show his bare bottom to passers-by. It was first placed there in the ’70s by local traders and has since been kidnapped several times! Since April 2008 it holds on to its place. John Lundström (1919-1990), a folk singer, musician and composer, a legendary local figure whose grandfather was a Swedish sailor who settled in Antwerp and whose father owned a sailor’s bar in the Schipperskwartier (the skippers quarters) wrote, in 1976, a song about the statue.

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Besides being a committed socialist, Lundström was a dedicated member of the Snorrenclub Antwerpen (the Antwerp Moustache Club), since its foundation in 1978. At this point I will have you know that recently the club had to be relocated and in the turmoil that followed, its founder decided to split and establish a new club. Thus the city became host not to one, but two Moustache Clubs. That’s how cool Antwerp is!

The song Lundström wrote is placed next to the statue on a bronze plaquette. Unfortunately I can’t understand a word and neither can the machine translator. Perhaps a native speaker could shed some light, please?

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John Lundström

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Den Deugniet, by John Lundström

Due to its turbulent past, the statue has been placed under heavy police protection. The Police Tower looks over it day and night:

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This walk turned out to be all about moustaches and statues, so here is an interesting duet. The celebrations for the 350th anniversary of the Royal Academy for Fine Arts, include these open air installations-totems. They are made of stacks of containers on which textiles  and patterns of 12 iconic Antwerp designers, have been imprinted. The project (obvious wink to Antwerp’s vast container port) is called ”Antwerp Icons” and the totems are scattered all over the city centre. This one is a design by Walter Van Beirendonck, stuck in Nationalestraat.

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We’ll take a short break here with a glimpse on Toneelhuis theatre, its splendid 19th century building, just visible ahead…

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… because next, we’ll go window shopping! See you soon!

All photos by Konstantinos Implikian
Image of John Lundström, courtesy of facebook

Antwerp, 26-28 October 2013

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10 thoughts on “Antwerp Moustaches & Bottoms

  1. Pingback: The Temple of Human Passions (extensive postscript) | Lia in Brussels

  2. I started to translate the song, but my Nederlands is poor from disuse and I am sure that Lundström used a Belgian Dialect (slang). The reference to “Manneken Pis” (Statue in Brussels) might refer to a bottom being show rather than the front.
    I am going back to read the story about the hand instead — I had no idea.XO

    • Yes I’m sure it’s a dialect or the machine translator would’ve come up with something at least. I’m guessing something like the bare ass cousin of Manneken Pis is our very own Deugniet?…
      You speak Dutch? Rusty or not I’m still impressed! I understood you have Czech roots but how about Dutch?
      The hand story can be a sensitive one around here… it evokes memories of Congo under king Leopold’s tyrrany, when his soldiers were instructed to chop off the hands of local villagers when these couldn’t meet some very unrealistic production quotas. Didn’t want to include this in the post as it would lead to a different direction but reality is so much crueler than legends some times!

      • I am a typical American from everywhere and nowhere…..Slovak genetic background. Graduate school in the Netherlands — learned Dutch at the same time as trying to work in Germany, Sweden and the US. A walking language disaster: Russian, French, Dutch, Swedish, Deutsche, Icelandic — none of them done well. Not even my Mother Tongue~XO

      • I can relate to the language situation: a Greek who lived/worked in different countries trying to learn their languages and the result is I speak none of them really well. Including Greek. I do admire those interpreters! I know they use techniques etc., but I wouldn’t mind learning how!

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