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Boy With His Teddybear

I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries about the boy-with-teddybear statue. From why I decided to use it as my blog’s header and Twitter avatar, to where exactly is it in Zagreb and what does it stand for. Well, before I finally try to give a decent answer to those questions, I have some news: I decided to ditch the boy:( 

He’s going to stay here on the top of this blog for a while, but it’s time for him to leave the twittersphere. Before you judge me for being so cruel to poor fellow, know that he was meant to be only a temporary solution in the first place. Still, it feels kind of hard to replace the little guy. 

I’m replacing it with the witchy Black Queen you’re probably already familiar with from Secret Zagreb FB page , Google+ and other social networks. Reason? I think the boy statue is misleading. I wouldn’t mind being considered genderless on Twitter, but with this boy everyone seems to assume that I’m a male, and that wasn’t my intention. A man who likes little boys, to be precise:) Well, Black Queen is about to change that for starters. I’m also starting guided walking tours this season, exploring the mystical side of Zagreb, and is there  anything that could symbolize it better than the dark queen witch that resides in the woods above Zagreb:)

Let’s get back to the initial questions. The Little Boy (Mali Djecak) statue is situated in the first Croatian children’s playground, part of the Kresimir park, popularly called Kresimirac. It was sculpted in 1920’s by  Emil Bohutinsky and some consider it to be one of the most notable Croatian modern children statues. It depicts a true boy Dado and it was ordered by his father, wealthy industrialist Antun Res. And here comes the weird part. There are several urban legends about the statue, none of them as cute as the statue itself. Years ago, I heard that a true boy had drowned in concrete while the park had still been under construction. I also heard the story the boy had drowned in a pool on that very spot. And there indeed was a pool in this park! There was a large pool that is now covered with gravel and a paddling pool for children that is now filled with sand.


And that’s nothing compared to another story: the boy had gotten into fight with another kid who then hit him in the head with a toy hammer causing deadly injuries! What a turn-off for a girl who, just like every other little girl, could hardly play in that park without sharing a hug or a kiss on cheek with this adorable little statue. 

As for using the boy sculpture as my profile pic, it’s just my thing, but I’ll try to explain it anyway. Partly it’s because it represents a link to growing up in this city. Not just my growing-up, but that of several generations of kids. Also, the statue and the entire park has always been creating a sort of nostalgic feeling for me. It’s also situated in the last significant park creation of Zagreb. The park is not far from the very center of the city, it’s near the famous Mestrovic pavillion. But, no matter how close to the most vital parts of the city and no matter how beautiful the park is, it only reflects pure solitude. 

The playground and the entire park with it’s design of old, with a little gardener’s depository, old-school drinking water fountains and a big fountain in a hidden part of the garden that hasn’t been in function for years.. it’s just out of this time. It simultaneously captures past moments and unveils the rapid changes Zagreb has been through, thus creating overwhelming but a bit uncomfortable sensation.  I think people partly avoid it ’cause it comes with those heavy feelings. Why else wouldn’t the large playground be full of children? Is it the ever-shadow of the tall trees that don’t allow the sun rays to pass through their dense foliage? It can’t be the only reason. It seems to me it’s the heavy soul of the place that creates the sensation. It’s something you’ll get to sense walking around Zagreb a lot. Just finding yourself at some locations in Zagreb awakens this strange melancholia, feeling you’ll always remember when thinking about this city. It’s the same feeling that gets to me when I think of some spots of Zagreb, including this lonely statue. Whether or not there is some truth to the horrific stories about the dead boy, the eternity he was given by his sculptor must be turning into true horror these days. Looking over an empty playground with only a few children playing in the distance, children who are hardly noticing he’s still there and who are not really prompt to share a plain old hug.

In fact, if you ever find yourself alone in that park, I’m sure you would feel that same echo of lost memories surrounding the statue. But it’s not something you can sense out of a photo. That’s why he has to go. But I promise to give him a hug once in a while;) 

Written by Iva Silla

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