Much like a statue, water fountains are also used to commemorate an individual’s memorable existence or notable achievement. While fountains are often constructed of some kind of statuary, obviously the difference lies in the addition of falling water. The sound of falling water brings on the feeling of peace and the sight of it reflection. Adding water to a solid form instantly changes a simple object into a tangible and living thing. Unlike a statue (no matter how elaborate the statue is in itself), water fountains trigger much sentiment and idealism.
In “Song of the Spirits over the Water” by Johann Wolfgang Goethe it is written, “A mortal’s soul seems like the water, from heaven coming to heaven rising again renewed then to earth descending ever changing.” Certainly, using a water fountain as a memorial goes a long way in adding continuity. It is as though what has passed or died still lives and will continue living for eternity.
Who do Fountains Represent?
While fountains as memorials have been used throughout Europe as well as the United States, it is really a world wide practice. Fountains as memorials have often been used for royalty, great heroes or notable politicians such as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain located in Piccadilly Circus, London. This fountain designed by Alfred Gilbert in 1893 was built as a monument for Anthony Ashley-Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury. Ashley-Cooper was a politician who worked tirelessly in English social and educational reform.
While it seems that many fountains are used as a memorial for mostly males, one commemorative fountain representative of a woman is the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain located in Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library. Built in 1912, this fountain was the first prominent memorial honoring a woman. The beauty of this gentle yet powerful fountain symbolizes the strong and beautiful character of Lowell who was an inspiration in charitable giving.
Aside from mere mortal souls, water fountain memorials are also used to celebrate the life of religious icons. These are particularly popular in countries heavily influenced by religion such as Catholicism or Hinduism. Many families have table top water fountains in their homes to place at homemade altars running the fountains non-stop. Various table top Buddha fountains are particularly popular as they not only celebrate Buddha but are thought to bring good luck to the families that have the fountains running non-stop.
Where Memorial Fountains are Located
Most, hugely impressive memorial fountains are located in public parks and squares. Obviously, communities and architects who take the time to recognize a significant and historical figure would want as many people to view the memorial as possible.
Memorial fountains are special in a way that no other fountain is. While many fountains are used as décor or to impress the public, memorial fountains are truly erected for remembering not only the person they are built for, but also to reflect on our own lives. Memorial fountains make us stop to think about the character of which the fountain represents but also to think about our own societal contributions and inspire us to such greatness as those they commemorate.