No More Rubbing of Equestrian Testicles

Here is the Rub

Rubbing delicate parts of a statue is thought all over the world to bring about luck.  At least tourists and students believe in this magic in many cities.

Well-wishers rub the nose of Greyfriars Bobby, a patient dog statue in Edinburgh.  His story can break the heart.  In Cambridge, Massachusetts, mostly students touch the toes of John Harvard’s shoes.  The toe caps of both shoes are shiny, while the high heels remain black.  In Verona, if you are lucky with lining up, you may touch the boobs of Juliette without inviting charges for child molestation.  Juliette’s right breast has been rubbed more frequently than the left one.  And in New York City’s Timer Warner Center at Columbus Circle, you have Fernando Botero’s (God rest his soul) giant and no doubt portly Adam and Eve statues, and you may already guess that so many people touch Adam’s rather small but prominent penis that it has been worn to a shining golden color.  For the record: Eve’s body is untouched.

We in Budapest have an early 20th century policeman statue on the corner of October 6 and Zrínyi Streets, leading up to the Government evicted Central European University’s old entrance.  The jovial cop’ sizeable belly is shining gold as a result of friendly touching.

So, what kind of city is this, we may ask our question once again?

Well, Budapest has now entered into a new era of testing tolerance when defenders of good morals and national identity found out that, following a time-honored student practice exercised once a year around graduation, a creative rubbing came to be exercised by tourists on a daily basis.  Tourists would rub the testicles of the horse under Count András Hadik, a 18th century Hussar commander of Maria Theresa’s army.

In October 1757, then Colonel Hadik led a surprise raid on Berlin when the Cat, King Frederick (the Great), was away.  During the beginning of the Seven-Year long War of Succession, Frederick was personally commanding the Prussian army some 400 kilometers south from Berlin in Silesia when about 4,300 Hussars stealthily travelled North from Vienna during the darkness of the night to break down a city gate and cause some havoc for a day or two.  The battalion collected a handsome indemnity from the Berliners and seized two dozen fine leather gloves for Empress Maria Theresa.  When they made it back to Vienna, retreating within a few days after destroying the city walls, Hadik found out that all gloves were left-handed.

Rubbing the horse testicles was a practice by graduates of the University of Technology for many years.  Then tour guides began to tell the story to visitors who quickly understood that touching the testicles of the statue might bring luck to the entire visit in Budapest and beyond.  I myself took a decent photo of the golden area of the horse’s genitals this last summer without touching the testicles.  To be honest, one would need to climb on a five-foot plinth in order to reach the now shiny gold testicles.

Now Minister Lazar’s Department of Construction and Transport wrote a stern letter to the mayor of District One of Budapest expressing a profound dismay at this “troublesome and offensive” practice which is offensive to good public morals and undermines the reputation of this great Hussar General.  Hadik was promoted when he returned to Vienna with the two dozens left-handed fine gloves.  Rubbing the genitals of the statue tends to undermine the national identity of Hungarians, was the conclusion of Janos Lazar’s letter, which requested that the mayor (who has formal jurisdiction over equestrian statues in District One) take appropriate steps to stop this frivolous practice.

Minister Lazar is an outspoken and agile minister among Viktor Orban’s otherwise subservient ministers.  He recently dropped quite a heavy dose of praise for the good deeds of Admiral Horthy, Hungary’s ruler between 1920 and 1944 who bears responsibility for the destruction of over 400.000 Hungarian Jews in 1944.  Our post on September 14 (An Untimely Celebration) deals with this instance.  No doubt, Minister Lazar takes risks: a few years ago, he had fallen out of grace and had to return to his electoral district in Southeast Hungary.  This is his second or third chance to stand out in the ruling Fidesz Party as heir apparent to Viktor Orbán.

What then will the mayor of District One, a woman in opposition to the Fidesz Party, do to address the Minister’s request?  She has several options, the most obvious being is the installation of a few caution boards alerting to the risks for climbing the five-foot plinth.  Fencing off the area might be another option.  Removal of the equestrian statue is not in the running.  Some folks, however, came up with a witty advice along the lines of protecting minors in book stores from reading offensive (LMBTQ and the like) content.  There is a law in effect which requires that books of said content be foiled into a transparent saran wrap cover to prevent minors from reading the content.

Foil over the testicles, goes this line of advice, which may, indeed, protect the restored-to-black object from turning into shiny gold, leaving somewhat unprotected our national identity.

Andras Hanak

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *