As many people know, we love public art/outdoor art, whether it’s sculptures, statues, beautiful fountains, murals, or special gardens. The art can be large or small, traditional or quirky, it doesn’t matter.
So, Maastricht was very interesting, as it boasts many unusual outdoor sculptures. I’ve mentioned a number earlier here in the blog, and here is another rather unusual group of figures—these connected to the famous Carnival.
Maastricht’s main square the Vrijthof has a strong connection to Carnival. Besides being one of the main venues for carnival activities in the city, it boasts several permanent carnival reminders. On the SW corner is a group of 5 colorful and oddly-shaped figures of different sizes. They depict players from a carnival marching band and we can see a drummer, a trumpeter, a tuba player, a cymbals player, and the biggest figure is the one holding a baton topped with a skull mask. They are perhaps depicting actual creatures/animals, but that is open to discussion.
It is called ‘T ZAAT HERMENIEKE, by Han van Weterine 1993, and is named after the first carnival orchestra in 1959. They are made of hard resin and constructed in a rough way with bumps and bulges. According to our guesthouse lady (the Haas op het Vrijthof Guesthouse is just behind the statues), people either love them or hate them. Some say they are ugly and have no place here. Others say they fit into the carnival theme perfectly—during carnival, the stranger, the more colorful or the more outrageous the costumes, the better. During carnival people really dress up and bands parade around. You’ll see all kinds of amazing costumes, and beer and jenever flow freely. Even the salted herring sellers might be costumed (traditional carnival fare).
Whatever the locals feel about these statues, they are certainly a magnet for all visitors, who take pictures, stand by the statues, or touch them. It is also a real mix of the old and the new, as the backdrop to these statues is the ancient St Servaas Church and St Jans Kerk.