The Four Goddesses Fountain

Location: Maputo, Mozambique

It is believed that the drinking fountain located in Jardim Tunduru Botanical Gardens was donated by French citizen Eugène François Tissot who managed the water supply to the city.

The base of the famous forest green fountain is a Greek cross plinth with canted corners from which the pedestal arises. An elaborate console decorated with a scallop shell from which a string of pearls flows separates four panels on which the image of a water serpent is coiled around a trident. The trident is associated with the mythological Poseidon who struck the earth and water sprung up. A scallop is symbolic of baptism and fertility, and pearls represent purity and wisdom.

The cornice contains the name of the manufacturer, Fonderies D’Art Du Val D’Osne 58 Bd.Voltaire Paris, and Ch.Lebourg Sc 1872. Four caratytids each subtly different in posture and dress, stand with raised arms to support a fish scale dome with fleur-de-lys cornice. The four dolphins with entwined tails at the apex is a symbolic protector of all things related to water.

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The statues in feminine form represent kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety (at a time when the Temperance Movement was very active.)  They also represent the 4 seasons: Simplicity symbolizes spring, Charity: summer, Sobriety: autumn and Kindness: winter. The statues differ from each other in several other ways: Simplicity and Sobriety have their eyes closed; whereas the eyes of Kindness and Charity are open. They are also different in the position of the knee and feet, or by the manner in which their tunic is knotted at the bodice.

A stream of water descended from the interior of the dome into a basin. Tin cups were originally chained to the fountains until public hygiene became a prevalent social issue.

Glossary

  • Caryatid, a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
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