The Little Pig

Il Porcellino statue, SydneyIl Porcellino (The little pig) statue outside the Sydney Hospital is a copy of a Pietro Tacca’s wild boar statue in a 17th-century fountain in Marketo Nuovo, Florence. The statue by Tacca was believed to be a copy of an ancient Greek marble boar sculpture.

In 1962 five copies of Tacca’s sculpture were cast by the Florence foundry, Fonderia Ferdinando Marinelli. One of the copies was donated to the Sydney Hospital by Marchessa Clarissa Torrigiani in memory of her father and brother. Both had been renowned surgeons at the hospital. Marchessa saved for seven years to purchase Il Porcellino.

It is believed that if you rub the boar’s snout he will bring you good luck. The wild boar even has special outfits which he wears on special occasions to help raise money for the hospital. The other copies of Il Porcellino can be found in California, Florence, Canada (University of Waterloo) and British Colombia (Butchart Gardens, Victoria). For more information about the “Little Pig” visit Public Art Around The World.

More About Boars

Il Porcellino sculpture, outside Sydney HospitalThe boar in mythology symbolises courage, strength and power as they are strong and hard to kill. King Arthur had the head of a boar on his shield. In India ‘pig sticking’ was a sport where a wild boar was speared fom horseback. During the American Civil War it was believed that many soldiers were eaten by wild boars as they lay wounded or dying on the battlefields.

In Greek legend Eneus (King of Calydon) was punished by the Goddess Artemis for neglecting sacrifices to her. The punishment was to send a wild boar to Calydon to reap havoc on the land. The boar was later wounded by Atalanta and killed by Meleager.

The english custom of serving the head of a boar for Christmas dinner comes from Norse mythology. Freyr the god of peace and plenty had a boar named Gullinbursti that he rode. Freyr celebrated Yuletide with a festival that included a sacrifice of a boar in his honour. The collective noun for a boar is a sounder of boars.