Living Statues

November 16, 2014
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living statue

Street entertainers who dress up like statues and stay perfectly still

When we travel or explore our own cities and festivals, we often visit famous and not-so-famous statues or pause to watch a street entertainer. Or we may encounter both in the form of living statues – humans made up and dressed up to look like statues, posed, and standing still.

Living statues stand still for long periods of time, surprising passersby from time to time with subtle movements. I have passed some without realizing they were human until they startled me with a small movement. Many will move slightly to acknowledge money placed in “hats” in front of them.

living statue Brighton England

Living statue in Brighton, England

living statue Barcelona Spain

Living statue in Barcelona Spain

I can’t imagine standing still for that long or how one trains to do it. When I have a manicure, as soon as the nail polish is applied to my fingernails and I have to wait until they dry to use them, an ear or my nose starts to itch. How much of my body would itch and ache if I knew I had to keep it all still for ages?

I searched the Internet but was unable to find clear and definitive information about the origins and history of living statues. They appear to date back to medieval times. You often find them at Renaissance fairs.

Although I know living statues can be found in North America, all the ones I remember seeing were in Europe, where they seem to be more common. Crowds gather round them and many people like to have their photographs taken beside the statues. Some places, like the southern end of Barcelona’s La Rambla are known for their living statues. The World Statues Festival in Arnhem, Netherlands is considered the semi-official world championship for living statues.

living statue London England

Living statue in London England


What is the most interesting living statue you’ve seen? Do you think you could be a living statue?



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  • Reply
    jacquie
    November 17, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Donna I saw one of these living statue displays in Laguna Beach CA. It’s an annual event and I happened to be in the area visiting my mother. I was completely taken in by it! Like you, I have no idea how these folks can stand so perfectly still for so long. Me? I just know I’d get that tickle in my throat and start coughing uncontrollably!!!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 17, 2014 at 8:07 am

      I think it would be fascinating to see a large group of living statues. The Laguna Beach event would be fun to see. I can imagine getting a tickle in the throat. In my case, I’d be more likely to start sneezing though.

  • Reply
    Nancy
    November 17, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Very cool travel theme, Donna! I’ve been scared more than once by “statues” that moved as I walked by, lol ~

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

      It is unnerving when what you thought was a statue moves.

  • Reply
    Kristin Henning
    November 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I never knew there was a festival of living statues in Arnhem! Now I have two reasons to return there.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 12:18 am

      I think the festival in Arnherm is held at towards the end of September – that is when it was in 2014.

  • Reply
    HikeBikeTravel
    November 17, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Barcelona is also the place where I’ve seen living statues. I’m in awe of how they can hold their positions for so long.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 12:20 am

      I think one needs to train to stay in position that long.

  • Reply
    SuzanneS
    November 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I actually don’t; love them – I kind of get creeped out by them. However they are super talented people. I think the ones where they make themselves look like metal or stone are the most intriguing! Interesting post!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 12:26 am

      I too am intrigued by the ones who look like metal or stone statues. I wonder about the make-up/lotions they apply to get that look and what damage it might be doing to their skin.

  • Reply
    santafetraveler
    November 17, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    I’ve seen these living statues at events and I always want to do something to make them lose their composure. I have to use a lot of will power not to.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 12:29 am

      I’m sure you are not alone in wanting to do something (or actually doing) to make the statues lose their composure. I imagine the living statues have seen a lot of that and one would have to get inventive to do something they didn’t expect. Now you have me thinking what that might be for the next time I pass a living statue.

  • Reply
    A Taste for Travel
    November 18, 2014 at 1:49 am

    I didn’t know living statues dated back to medieval times! I don’t recall seeing many up until about 10 years ago and now I often see them so I guess they are growing in popularity. There are a few here in Lisbon right now and it’s interesting to imagine the tradition dating back to far.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

      It is interesting to imagine the tradition dating back. I wonder what would have started it – what prompted someone to try this.

  • Reply
    Nancie
    November 18, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I saw some brilliant ones when I was in Prague. In Canada, Halifax hosts the annual Busker Festival, and I have seen some interesting ones there. Although it has been years since I was Halifax for the festival.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 9:22 am

      I don’t remember ever seeing one in Canada. A Busker Festival sounds like fun.

  • Reply
    Anita Oliver
    November 18, 2014 at 6:59 am

    This was an interesting post, especially when I started thinking if I could do something like that … NO! The other question then became, “How does a person “train” to do this?” It’s probably not like they say “When I grow up…”

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 18, 2014 at 9:23 am

      I’m not sure how one “trains” for this, but I think some training or practice would be necessary.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    November 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Love his post, Donna, and I love living statues! Two memorable ones come to mind: in London, we saw one where the guy’s body was hidden under the table by a curtain, but his head appeared on the table inside a box! Quite the sight! Another, was in New Orleans, where the fellow stood on a box and was completely spray painted in gold. And it was a hot day! He must have been sweltering.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

      I’ve seen a few living statues where you have to wonder how the person is coping with the heat on top of having to stand still. I couldn’t do it.

  • Reply
    The GypsyNesters
    November 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Wow, that first one and the bicycle one are fantastic! I’d be tempted to go up and tap on them.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

      They do inspire the urge to poke at them. I’ve never done that yet though.

  • Reply
    Jo at ZigaZag blog
    November 19, 2014 at 5:22 am

    What a great travel theme Donna! I’ve seen so many in various places and not thought to photograph them. I will now 😉 I’ve been taken by surprise a few times too. Don’t know how that one on the bicycle managed to stay still 😉

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 19, 2014 at 9:31 am

      The bike stand was done, but still it must have difficult to stay and balanced.

  • Reply
    Lily Lau
    November 19, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Once I’ve seen a really curious living statue of two “Hindi” people, and one of them was floating in the air! How was that possible? If it was up to me I’d have stayed with them all day until she had to go down so I could see the trick!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Wow. I too would have wanted to stay and see how she managed that trick.

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    November 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve seen them here in San Francisco; in Santiago, Chile; Christchurch, New Zealand; in Barcelona, Spain; and most recently in Dublin, Ireland, http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/2014/03/sights-to-see-grafton-street-bewleys.html

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      I’m interested to hear that you can see them in some North American cities. I just haven’t yet.

  • Reply
    Patti Beck
    November 22, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Living statues were featured at a mall in Calgary a few years back during the Christmas season. They are fascinating! It was so much fun to see individuals startled when the statues did move. Good article!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 23, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Patti, it would be so cool (and unexpected) to see the living statues in a Canadian shopping mall. I can imagine the startled looks when statues moved.

  • Reply
    Catarina
    November 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Love the photos, Donna. What a great idea to become a living statue. Bet they have lots of fun!!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      November 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

      As difficult as it must be to stay so still, I imagine there are times it is harder to keep from laughing when they watch the people around them and their reactions.

  • Reply
    Sizwe
    March 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I love that so much because I am also a living statue

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      March 15, 2016 at 6:21 am

      Sizwe, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I cannot imagine doing what you do and standing perfectly still for so long.

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