Living Statues

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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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  1. 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!!!

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…”

  6. 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.

  7. What a great travel theme Donna! I’ve seen so many in various places and not thought to photograph them. I will now ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve been taken by surprise a few times too. Don’t know how that one on the bicycle managed to stay still ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

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