Zaate Herremeniekes

by Honoka Aoki,

It is again the time for introducing new students to this unique city. (Although locals are insistent, I wouldn’t call this small village “a city”…)  Maastricht is tiny but still offers an enriched culture, unlike any others in Europe. Of course the most famous cultural event of the capital of Limburg is the “carnaval”.

Although I’m not a fan of the carnival music broadcasting itself amongst the bars in centrum, nor did I wear overly flamboyant costumes (yet), I thought it would be fun at least to witness what’s happening in the town. On Saturday afternoon, we went to see the “welcome of stad-prins (city prince) parade” which continues from the station to the markt. When we arrived at the station, there was already the carnival brass band coming towards the station. Not one, not two but at least 5 bands were playing one after another at the station. Not to forget, that one of them disturbed my precious Saturday sleep earlier this day, whilst marching towards my house. Looks like every man of this area has to be a musician or something.
In fact, Limburg is known for having most numbers of brass bands in the Western Europe. It is often described that even the tiniest village in this area has its own brass band.
So full of brass bands and most importantly, while playing jolly music, members had already given them second or third distributions of refreshments, aka golden bier.

I want to tell you about one symbolic presence located in the town, which represents the very musical culture of Maastricht specifically on this time of the year.

Familiar with these guys at the Vrijthof?
Familiar with these guys at the Vrijthof?

Ever wondered who they are? This is not an elementary school kids’ creation, this is certainly one of finest artworks Maastricht has to offer.

These people are called zaate herremeniekes. In Southern Netherlands dialect, it should mean either “tipsy” or “drunken” wind brass band.

These guys indeed represent the brass bands playing around the town, especially on the “Fat Tuesday” during the carnival week. As it is the last day of the carnival, a brass band competition is held at the vrijthof on Tuesday.

It was created by the artist, Mr. Han van Wetering upon the requests from locals who wished to capture the moment of excitement and euphoria in the carnival.

Had anyone known that these were originally bronze statues installed in 1993? It was not as it is now from the beginning. It was only in 2005, when the town completed the renovation of vrijthof that the statue also had renewed its style to its present flashy-colored form.

This is as far as I could delve. Further mysteries like “Why are they gummy-looking?” “Are they human or other creatures?” “What are the intension of the creator?” must remain unanswered for now.

photo courtesy of leukgevonden.nl

Honoka Aoki

 

 

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