Wrocław的小矮人和致香港人的一斷話 – Wrocław’s dwarfs and message to Hongkongers

I love my hometown – Wrocław is known to be the city of bridges, the city of love (WrocLOVE) or the city of dwarfs. image_5
I think most of the people would be now like ‘What the hell, are people from Wroclaw a half-size of average Polish person? Why would you choose a gnome?’.

First of all, those are dwarfs, not gnomes – tourist information says that so it has to be true. I’m looking at you, Linda and Paul. Second of all – I’ve done some research, to be honest I was clueless like most of you. Too shameful since I call that place my home and I only thought it’s just a part of promoting the city, but I’m happy to now share my knowledge with you, especially during such a difficult time to my fellow Hongkongers.

Originally they were actually paintings on the walls in the biggest cities of Poland since anticommunist watchwords were covered by the communist governent of Poland – over 1000 dwarfs were painted in 6 cities. The first graffiti was painted by  Waldemar Fydrych and Wiesław Cupała on the night from the 30 to 31 August 1982 on one of the residences in the Wrocław district of Biskupin and Sępolno.

image_4It was a part of Orange Alternative (in Polish ‘Pomarańczowa alternatywa) – an underground protest movement which was started in Wrocław,in the 1980s. Its main purpose was to offer a wider group of citizens an alternative way of opposition against the authoritarian communist regime by means of a peaceful protest that used absurd and nonsensical elements.

By doing this, Orange Alternative participants could not be arrested by the police for opposition to the regime without the authorities becoming a laughing stock. Orange Alternative has been viewed as part of the broader Solidarity movement. Academics Dennis Bos and Marjolein ‘t Hart have asserted it was the most effective of all Solidarity’s factions in bringing about the movement’s success.

In 2001, to commemorate the Orange Alternative movement, a figurine of a dwarf (the Orange_Alternative_Dwarf_Graffiti_in_Wrocław_2014_P01movement’s symbol) was officially placed on Świdnicka Street, where the group’s happenings used to take place. It is probably one of the few cases in the world where such a subversive group has been honoured by the city authorities, who commissioned the placing of a statue of a dwarf in the city centre.

The figures of the dwarfs, which are smaller than the Orange Alternative monument on Świdnicka Street, were placed in different parts of the city. The first five: designed by Tomasz Moczek, a graduate of The Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, were placed in August 2005. These were the Fencer near the University of Wrocław, the Butcher in Stare Jatki arcade, two Sisyphuses on Świdnicka Street and the Odra-Washer-Dwarf, near Piaskowy Bridge. The name of the last dwarf is related to Pracze Odrzańskie: an estate on the outskirts of the city. Since that time, the number of figures has continued growing, predominantly in the Old Town and today we have more than 300 of them.

Knowing all of that I can say that dwarfs are not only symbol of Wrocław, but also a little bit a symbol of freedom. And here is our family’s message to Hongkongers:

Dear Hongkongers,
image(2)We, people of Poland, have been there. Fought for the same reason, suffered the same pain, shared the same dreams and hopes. Today we stand free, watching you fighting for your freedom. We can’t do much besides standing with tears in our eyes and praying for you. We hope and believe one day you will be able to stand free next to us, that you will achieve your goal without unnecessary harm or even worse. World is watching you, people all around the world are supporting you. It’s your time to add oil and shine. Let this little dwarfs, Solidarek, be a symbol that a new, good future is ahead of you – maybe not today, tomorrow or next month, but it will eventually come.
Stay safe and take care of yourselves.
T. family

I don’t think any political discussion is needed – if someone doesn’t want to support Hong Kong, doesn’t believe in their way of protesting etc. – I won’t force you to change your mind, neither you will change mine. Everyone has a sources and own conscious to judge the situation, in our family freedom is seen as one of the basic human rights and I could see tears in my mother’s eyes when she saw what’s going on in Hong Kong. That’s all about it.

Now enjoy those cute, little dwarfs. NOT GNOMES. PERIOD. #crazydwarflady

I spent around half a day to catch them all, but I have failed. Actually when I think of it my map contained only 79 from more than 300 dwarfs, but what do you expect when you buy 6PLN map instead of 10PLN updated Dwarf Guidebook. I’m a cheapass, but hey – it’s also in English and German.
Even if I had more time I think it would be almost impossible to catch them all since one of those little assholes hides on a tram. Moving tram. I can only imagine myself walking from a tramstop to tramstop and looking at the tram side-numbers. But I took some nice pictures so let’s see what dwarfs you can surely meet on your way in the city center!

Ball-pushing and ball-lifting Sisyphus – Świdnicka St., next to Polish Post Office
image_2Disabled: Wheelchair Rider, Deaf and Blind – Market Square, next to the main entrance to the City Hall
image_3Sleepy – św. Mikołaja St., at the back of the Jaś tenement
image_8Busker and Music-Lover – Oławska St., in front of wedding dress shop
image_4(1)

Dumpling Eater (my homie) – Kuźnicza St., next to the STP restaurant enteranceimage_6Gourmet (another foodie or just simply my own statue) – Market Square, in front of Pizza Hut
image_7Film Lover – Kazimierza Wielkiego St., next to the Helios cinema
image_3(2)Newlyweds – Registry Office in Włodkowica St. 20image_2(2)The Pole Dwarves – 16! of them: 4 at Solny Square, 6 at Świdnicka St., 6 at Oławska St.
image_5(1)Friendly – so-called Pigeon Square, next to the fountain in the Market Square
imageWrocLover – between houses Hansel and Gretel, św. Mikołaja St. 1 – take a look that the heart he’s holding has Wrocław’s coat of arms!
image_1(1)image(1)Pigeon fancier – Spiż restaurant, on the window still
image_1And few of the dwarfs I met on my trip that haven’t been marked on my map
image_7(1)image_6(1)image_5(2)image_2(1)image_4(2)
Do you have something like this in your city? Have you ever seen something like this in real life? Please share your stories! And remember about those who are fighting for their freedom today and those who fought for you in the past. Freedom is not that easy to achieve. 

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47 thoughts on “Wrocław的小矮人和致香港人的一斷話 – Wrocław’s dwarfs and message to Hongkongers

  1. Great post, dear! Love the wee ones. Cities I have lived in have never had anything like that. It’s creative and fun! I also appreciate your mention of HK. I’m hoping for the best while feeling sick at what I’ve seen. 😦

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      1. Oh, I can imagine! It’s so challenging to be so far away physically. And while real-time news is sometimes nice, it becomes too much if what I’m waiting for is important to me. Hmmm… every sign off sounds trite so I’m going to end with a happy smile of hope. 🙂

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  2. That was a fascinating post . I have actually visited Wroclaw but was just passing through and didn’t know about the dwarves….will definitely look for them next time . V interesting bit of history !

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  3. I remember learning about those “gnomes” in history class in Germany 🙂
    In Germany we have these kind of garden dwarves, which look a bit similar to the ones you should now (just more ridiculous)

    Right now I can’t think of anying similar to the dwarves in any city I have lived so far or perhaps these things became so normal to me that I don’t view them as special anymore 🙂

    Hopefully it will be resolved peaceful in Hong Kong and that Mainland China will stick to their original agreement…..

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  4. So many dwarves!!! :O As expected, I think the Gourmet one is best. Just look at him, lying in his own empty bowl because he’s eaten all the good stuff! Mmmm…. 😀

    I hope everything will be resolved in Hong Kong soonーbacking out of an original agreement is not cool. 😦 I hope people will stay safe ❤

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    1. Being short is nothing wrong – like Sing said ‘as long as I’m higher than you, even if it’s 1cm, it’s good enough’ 😉 – for Polish standards I’m a dwarf, same like my mom – I’m 162/3 cm, she is 158 and average for Polish girl is 168 O.O

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      1. lol, I have seen couples where the guy is shorter than the woman, there’s no need for him to show he’s manly by being taller!

        Of course you’re right, nothing wrong with being short. But the popular stereotype is that the taller you are, the more authority and status you bring. So naturally when someone thinks short they think the opposite of someone with status

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        1. I think I watched too much Saint Seiya because Seiya was a tiny but powerful man therefore I thought I will marry a tiny Asian haha 😉

          my friends say it’s the feeling of being protected – that’s why they like tall guys

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  5. Those dwarves must be bolted to the floor or walls right? If they’re made of bronze they can be quite valuable. A few years ago there was a series of incidents of people stealing metal statues around the US and selling them for their metal value.

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  6. Whoops! I made a mistake. The Bay Bridge doesn’t have a gnome; it has a troll.
    Wikipedia has an article on it under “Bay Bridge Troll”.

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  7. how artistic. i think all cities in the world should have something like this. a cute art pieces all over the city. this just makes the city seems so much more friendly.

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  8. LOVE this post. Spent three years living in Prague, and loved all the plays and literature that came out of that city making fun of an oppressive (and ridiculous) regime. An oppressive regime may outwardly squash dissent, but it bubbles furiously under the surface. I love how your city chose to rebel – the proliferation of dwarves is really brilliant. I’d never heard of this before. Look forward to visiting and following your dwarf tour. Great post!

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