Local Heart, Global Soul

August 27, 2017

Poking Out His Tongue At History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just behind the Lazarus Gate in Gouda is the Katharina Gasthuis museum.

I noticed when going past the Gate that there was a face starting at me on the wall nearby.

This face was not of a real person, and more specifically, it was wooden, or maybe stone, head.

The face of the male head is poking his tongue out towards the viewer. Whilst photographing this an older couple walk past, and I say “Good Morning” in Dutch.

The gentleman asks if I know the meaning behind this head. I tell them I don’t so they explain that it’s an old fashioned sign for an apothecary.

I know that an apothecary is someone who prepares and sells drugs for medical purposes, but didn’t realise that this was a sign for one.

The couple tell me that these “signs’ told people what various shops sold, for instance the poking out tongue of this face is a gesture of taking a pill, and signs like this were because the vast majority of people could not read, so needed a visual guide rather than a written one. I think it’s a brilliant solution, and delighted that this one still survives. I take photographs of the surrounding buildings before I move on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

2 Comments »

  1. I took this picture in Haarlem when we were there – it is a similar head outside a druggist called Van der Pigge 🙂

    Comment by Carrie — August 31, 2017 @ 1:00 am | Reply

    • Carrie,
      There is one of these in the center of The Hague too, have to look for photos I have of it.

      Comment by kiwidutch — August 31, 2017 @ 8:56 pm | Reply


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