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What Is the Jeanneke Pis?

By Carol Luther
Updated May 23, 2024
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Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is the home of numerous historic buildings and monuments that date back several centuries. One of this city's most famous historic statues is the Manneken Pis. It depicts a boy — standing atop an ornate fountain — who creates the flow of water into the fountain when he urinates. Jeanneke Pis is a modern statue of a urinating girl — a female counterpoint to the Manneken Pis.

Brussels' Grand Place is a large square that dominates the center of the city. Within the square, visitors find 17th century buildings and monuments. Manneken Pis was erected here during the 15th century. He stands on a street between the Brussels Town Hall and the entrance to the Grand Place.

The more modern statue, Jeanneke Pis, was erected in Brussels in 1987. It is on a little traveled street, Impasse de la Fidelitie, nearly opposite the statue of Manneken Pis. While Manneken Pis was originally a functional part of Brussels' water delivery system, Jeanneke Pis is purely a work of art.

She stands at the end of the Rue des Bouchers. This street is a major location for Brussels restaurants that cater to locals and tourists. Depending on one's choice of restaurants and tables, one can enjoy the statue and a meal at the same time.

The small statue depicts a female child with pigtails. She is squatting in a position that suggests she is relieving herself. Like Manneken Pis, she wears no garments. The legend that has grown up around her suggests that anyone who puts coins in her fountain will have a wish granted.

Artist Denis Adrien Debouvrie created Jeanneke Pis. He received a commission to construct the statue to pay homage to loyalty. The statue that he started work on in 1985 has a fountain with water that flows into it from the little girl's symbolic flow of urine. The limestone that he used has a bluish-gray tint. Manneken Pis, by contrast, was cast in bronze.

The statue is in a public location, so visitors do not pay fees to see it. The park housing Jeanneke Pis has a heavy wrought iron fence that obscures viewing should one arrive after the park closes. One can use Brussels' public transportation to reach the statue. The closest train station is De Brouckere. From there one can take one of the five Brussels trams that deposit visitors close enough to walk to the statue.

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Discussion Comments
By B707 — On Oct 18, 2011

Many years ago in my early twenties, I was visiting Brussels and saw the Manneken pis statute. The group I was traveling with was quite intrigued by this statute. We looked at it for quite a while.

And to think that it was erected back in the 15th century. Imagine all the people who have walked through the square and stopped to look at the statute and the many different thoughts that passed through their minds.

Unfortunately, I have never seen the Jeanneke Pis. I wonder why the female version wasn't placed in a public square where people pass through regularly?

The two statues could be symbolic for any number of ideas. Everyone probably has their own interpretation. Or, in the beginning, the manneken pis could have been be created just for fun and enjoyment.

By John57 — On Oct 18, 2011

When I was visiting Brussels, one of my goals was to see both the Manneken Pis and the Jeanneke Pis.

These are not in the same area, but was well worth the effort to find them. The Manneken Pis statue seems to be more well known and is in an area that is more prominent.

I was just as fascinated with the Jeanneke Pis - probably even more so because I am female.

Even though I had seen pictures of these statues online, there is nothing quite like being there in person and taking your own pictures of them.

By chivebasil — On Oct 18, 2011

This article mentions that Jeanneke Pis is about loyalty but I wonder if it is better to read it as a gender comment. I have seen both the Jeanneke Pis and the older stature that it is referencing. I always though that the Jeanneke Pis is a comment about the way we embrace, accept and even celebrate male genitals and their function while keeping female genitals secret, restrained and intentionally mysterious. Quite simply, you see a lot of statues of men peeing but never one of a woman peeing. That has to mean something.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Oct 17, 2011

What a coincidence. I saw this fountain for the first time just yesterday. I wish that I could say that it was in person but it was actually just on some random site I found online. There was a positing for something like "20 crazy fountains" and I clicked on it.

Almost all of the fountains were crazy and some were actually pretty disgusting, depicting things which I will not mention here. But Jeanneke Pis was actually rather beautiful and I was surprised I had never seen it before.

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