Water Sprite Kabourek statue

Water Sprite Kabourek statue, Prague, Czech Republic 

Public Art: Water Sprite Kabourek statue

Also Known As: Water Goblin, Wasserman, Vodnik

Sculptor: © Josef Nalepa

Description: This wooden carved goblin sits precariously on a tree stump at the end of the dock guarding the waterwheel of the grand priory mill (Velkoprevorsky mlyn) on Devil's River. If you look closely you will notice a flame on the top of Kabourek's head, this is what he uses to see under water. The sprite was inspired by the sculptor's loathing of the Love Lock Wall in Mala Strana that has obscured the view of the water mill and scarred the landscape of old Prague.


Artist's Statement: " I was sitting in my studio making sketches when it occurred to me that it has to be an old Czech water sprite, not a Dvorak or any other type of character but a water sprite as we know it from Lada. So I kept a few features in the same manner as Lada use to do and this is how Kabourek came to life."

Location: Kabourek sits at the end of the dock next to a water mill at Lesser Quarter by Devil's Stream, an artificial waterway, Prague, Czech Republic. 

Things You May Not Know About The Water Sprite:

According to legend the Czech water sprite or vodnik is a river dwelling amphibious creature who (though has some human features and traits) has gills, webbed fingers, algae coloured skin and hair, and looks like a vagrant. Their face is usually unshaven and they have a long tangled beard. They like to linger by the river on a tree stump or rock smoking a pipe and they often have soaking wet coat-tails. A vodnik must always have his coat tail wet or he will die. Many pubs leave a bucket of water for the vodniks to stand in while they drink a beer.

The water sprite loves alcohol, especially beer and like nothing better than frequenting the riverside pubs.  Some water sprites are harmless but others like drowning humans (especially children) who dare step into their territory. Whoever has the misfortune of becoming a victim of a vodnik will have their soul stored in a porcelain jar and put on display underwater like a trophy. The more souls the higher the status of a vodnik. 

Fishermen often bribe the vodnici by putting a pinch of tobacco in the river in exchange for fish.

There are about 40 vodnici living in the Vltava River. Mr Pivoda resides near the rock of Vysehrad, Mr Purkrabek near kampa Island, Mr Pakit lives in the fountains at Prague Castle and of course Mr Kabourek near the water wheel at Cerovka.

The Kabourek HATES the hideous sight of the locks that the lovers have placed on the gates of the mill. Beware you lovers because if the water sprite catches you placing a lover's lock he will throw you in the Devil's Stream. Kabourek has no tolerance for such silly traditions that block him and the beautiful view of old Prague.

Acknowledgements: A special thank you to Silvie Bee for kindly providing the photographs.

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