Sculpture-rubbing around the world

I’ve just had one of my entries published, about a statue in Mexico of a woman selling food on the street. The statue depicts her two baskets, one full of gorditas and the other of boiled eggs. The sculpted eggs and the handles of both baskets have been rubbed by people to the degree that the patina has been removed and these parts shine way brighter than the rest of the statue.

Regarding the eggs, I am certain that not few people have rubbed them due to the Spanish language slang of “huevos” for “testicles”. The basket handles probably just make for a good photo op.

In Zacatecas’s El Edén Mine, there is a statue of a miner in full work gear. Guides say that rubbing the statue brings three different types of fortune depending on what part is chosen. His hardhat lamp will light your way in life. His prominent belly will ensure you are always well-fed. His crotch brings fortune of a more… interpersonal nature. Judging by the sheen, all 3 are popular choices.

In Edinburgh, hardly anyone bats an eye at David Hume’s tootsie being rubbed for luck but, despite him having been the best of boys, booping Geryfriars Bobby’s snoot is not ok (I’ve been told that this is because it had been touched so much it was losing its shape and basically had to be re-cast not too long ago)

This is all to say that we people aren’t great at keeping our greasy little grabbers to ourselves. If Donatello’s “David” was at arm’s length for example, I have no doubt about which features would shine brightest.

So, what other cases do you know of where a sculpture is particularly shiny. Which parts and why?


Brussels, Grand Place. You also have to rub the dog and at least one of the mice hidden in the sculpture (although by now the are shiny).


Wondering if the Wall Street Bull might count as part of this topic…

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I’d say it definitely does. I haven’t seen the Wall Street one but I did see the one in Shanghai earlier this year.

I would imagine the case is much the same in NYC as not only are the bull’s balls shiny, but so are the nostrils, horns and a certain backside indentation.

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Just remembered one of my favorites:

Looks like animal snouts are a common trend here.


I thought I responded to you, pardon. In that case, definitely.

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It took me a while to respond to this thread, but I can’t believe no one has mentioned the most egregious “me too” example of patina-robbing sculpture rubbing I’ve ever seen: the décolletage of the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street in Dublin. I took this photo about a year ago on a typical Saturday morning when tour groups from all over the world seemingly flocked to this square to accost this poor bronze heroine, the fishmonger subject of the unofficial anthem of Ireland. This may be one reason why locals long ago dubbed this figure “The Tart with the Cart.”

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This and the following post:

seem to make it clear that, when it comes to statue-rubbing, tradition rarely breaks off from simple “lol sex”.

Which just makes more original ones like the mice in Brussels or Cumil in Bratislava (for the rubbing of the helmet rather than the peeping tom aspect) that much more enjoyable.

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This statue in Stockholm kept my hands warm on a really cold and wet day last year. Stays 37 degrees Celsius all year long!

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Bit of a lockdown-boredom-inspired Eureka moment when I realized looking for the word “rubbing” on the search bar brings up some AO entries I hadn’t seen yet:

More snouts, toes/feet and more crotches too, these are definitely recurring themes.