Header Image

Navigation images

Day 285: Mini Lion of Belfort

Another monument at public square for you today – it’s a miniature of the Lion of Belfort. It sits rather prominently at Place Denfert-Rochereau, with plenty of after office vehicles zooming around in their rush to get home, or make it for dinner appointments, or whats not. At the same time, there was a vanful of police next to me so I just made a quick job of photographing this and left.

The Lion of Belfort was sculpted in celebration of France’s resistance during the siege of Belfort, led by none others than Colonel Denfert-Rochereau. Given this square in the 14th arrondissement is already name after the colonel, why not place a miniature of the famous lion that commemorates the effort at the square, right?

Day 279: Across the river

I’m beginning to believe that if you throw a coin at something in Paris, you’ll probably hit a landmark of some sort. Some more famous than the others, of course, but sometimes, even what seems to be something nondescript, could well bear a sign to tell you that someone famous used to live or do-such-and-such here.

Standing along Quai François Mitterrand and looking over the River Seine, on a large scale, it’s easy enough to spot Square du Vert-Galant, Pont Neuf, statue of King Henri IV (of France) and the dome of the Panthéon. With a navette throw in there for good measure. Could be nice with some blue sky over it though, don’t you think? Pretty please, I’d like the grey days to be over.

Day 257: Tsunami Honganji Vihara

We continued our journey towards Colombo, the last leg of the tour from Galle to Colombo. En route, we passed by Peraliya Village where a tall, 54 feet Buddha statue has been erected in memory of the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsumani, with funding assistance from Honganji Temple of Japan. An estimated 2,000 or so villagers and train passengers of Samudra Devi, that happened to be halted neat the village as water surged, perished that day.

Tsunami Honganji Vihara is built based on the Bamiyan Buddha statues of Afghanistan, which were destroyed about a decade ago by the Talibans. Today, it stands facing the sea that is a mere couple of hundred meters away, on a platform guarded by lions on all corners, surrounded by a pond, and linked to the land by a small bridge. The breezy September wind sent the coconut leaves fluttering lightly against the blue sky, revealing little of the destruction of the past, until one casts his/her eyes to the surrounding and found crumbling huts and houses that have since laid uninhabited.

Day 145: Guarding over Paris

Sainte Geneviève is the patron saint of Paris and standing really really tall on Pont de la Tournelle over River Seine is a statue of this wise and brave woman (who was said to have saved Paris from the plunders of Attila the Hun and performed numerous other miracles for the people of Paris), protecting the young Paris (depicted as a young girl here – holding a ship used by the Parisii tribe?) from all that sought to cause her harm.

This iconography is similar to the stained window of Église St-Pierre de Montmartre (photo on Flickr) which would quite ambiguously tells you it is Paris that Sainte Geneviève is looking out for. In this creation, Paris is holding Notre Dame Cathedral in her hands. Of course, note that Notre Dame wasn’t built until several decades following the death (and canonisation) of Sainte Geneviève, the representation at Pont de la Tournelle would probably be a more accurate depiction. But, what do I know? I am no historian.

Day 143: Museum of a museum

Gustav III Museum of Antiquities is a rather peculiar museum. It is a museum of a museum, that is, it is a museum recreated based on the museum which used to be housed at the Royal Palace. For a period of time, these pieces were moved to National Museum. They were subsequently restored at the Palace once again, and reopened as Museum of Antiquities. Therefore, this is a museum honouring what was one of the oldest European museums.

The museum is not particularly big, consisting of only two galleries. The bigger one containing a number of key statues, including Apollo and his nine muses, and Endymion, while the narrower gallery is used to mostly display busts of men of fame in the past. What’s quite amusing was listening to the guide explaining how rogue merchants of the past classified something as an object of antiquities from Roman civilisation. Apparently, as long as there’s at least 30% of original parts to the work, it was considered antiquities. And missing parts (limbs, attributes) can subsequently be replaced by, say, reconstructive sculpting works. Intriguing.

Day 104: Trusty steed

In history, a chevalier would never go without his trusty steed, usually a beauty with incomparable loyalty. Or so the romance novels had me believe. It is no wonder then, statues of men who are deemed leaders and heroes are normally depicted on the horseback, sword-yielding and all. Even the word chevalier itself, used to mean a knight, is of French origin with its root lies in the word cheval, i.e. horse.

Adjacent to the Hôtel de Ville, the statue of Étienne Marcel looking out to River Seine can hardly be missed. Looking from the side, it looks almost mundane but looking up from underneath, it always strikes me how magnificent the horse looks, and in part, rather menacing too. I have never felt the urge to look at sculptures this way (there are a lot of equestrian statues in Paris) but perhaps it’s the nature of this particular one which juts out over the footpath – it opens up an accidental opportunity to see the statue differently?

Day 14: Lady Justice

Overheard at Dublin Castle (not verbatim of course) and my personal takes:

This statue of Lady Justice is controversial for a number of reasons. If you look at it, what do you find missing? Yes, the blindfold. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind to status, wealth, power and race, but in this depiction, not only is she not blindfolded but her gaze hooded, as if to conceal something.

Weeeell, historically the blindfold is not really part of the iconography of Justitia, although she does hold a straight gaze. She probably also won’t have a little smirk like this one does.

Lady Justice is also facing inward, turning her back to the people of Dublin. Her scale is a working scale, and on rainy days, it used to tip to one side, as more water flowed into the plate with the finger pointing at. This cannot do as the scale should remains balanced, and a hole has therefore been bore on each of the plate to allow draining away of the water.

Certainly, to turn her back to the city is not something she’s supposed to do but the British Authorities made it this way. I also remember a friend mentioning previously that the tip is to the side where the Revenue Office is. I have no idea where the Revenue Office is in Dublin Castle, so I can’t verify this. You can spot the holes on the plates in this picture though.

“Take note also of the sword that she’s holding. Normally, the double-edged sword points downward, to indicate the violence should always be the last resort. However, this sword is pointing upwards, symbolising her willingness to use violent and wielding power over the people.”

In my opinion, holding would be an inaccurate description even. The sword is perching from her side in an almost careless manner. Seems to me she is more concerned about holding up her stola. I have also seen a number of statues of Lady Justice with the sword held upright and at times, posed as if ready for battle. The sword, however, does not represent violence but the prevailing power of justice.

Day 4: An angel to watch over me

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

— Emily Dickinson


Time stole away. It was a little less than two years ago that I first stood in this cemetery, saying a final goodbye to D who was near and dear to me. All around us were intricate Celtic crosses and guardian angels, lending an air of ancient culture meet religious symbolism, yet on a closer look, modern marble headstones are found peppered around the site, proof of style transition of death monuments over time.

Personal association aside, Glasnevin Cemetery is managed by Glasnevin Trust, which functions include operating the Glasnevin Museum and in winter months, it even runs daily walking tour. The cemetery is the largest non-denominational cemetery in Ireland, and the graves of many prominent figures can be found here. I guess that makes Glasnevin Cemetery the Père Lachaise of Dublin?

Notify me!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Most read today