Chizhik-Pyzhik, where have you been?

Chizhik-Pyzhik, where have you been?
21 August 2014

Chizhik-Pyzhik, where have you been?
Drank vodka on the Fontanka.
Took a shot, took another –
Got dizzy.

Чижик-пыжик, где ты был?
На Фонтанке водку пил.
Выпил рюмку, выпил две —
Зашумело в голове.

“Chyzhik Pyzhik helps students to get through unhappy love affairs and get around on public transport without having tickets.” – Gabriadze, sculptor of the statue

Size isn’t everything and the statue of this little bird is definitely punching above its weight, if one looks at the number of visitors that it attracts. The statue of the Чижик-пыжик represents a goldfinch and it is placed on the embankment enclosing the Fontanka river, by Saint Michael’s Castle and the First Engineer Bridge.

Tourists as well as locals try to land a coin on the ledge of the statue, without making it fall into the water, as this is supposed to bring good luck. The statue, work of the Georgian artist Rezo Gabriaze, is quite recent, having been placed in its current position only in 1994; the tradition it is built upon, however, is more than 150 years older.

In 1835 the Imperial Law School was founded, and apparently the students of this elite school, the soon-to-be top lawyers of the Empire, really enjoyed to attend a pub on the Fontanka quay belonging to a merchant called Nefedov. The students wore green and yellow uniforms and this gained them the popular association with the goldfinch, which has feathers of the same colour. Their passion for drinking gave the folk’s rhyme which I reported above and is still well known in Russia nowadays.

The statue of the  “Chyzhik Pyzhik” has been stolen three times, the last time having been in 2002, some say with the purpose to re-melt its bronze. To address this problem the Museum of Urban Sculpture has now in stock several copies of Gabriadze’s original design.

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