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Zumbera and Smorabus

Zumbera and Smorabus are two figures appearing in Pilsen legends. The former is still well known because his statue can be seen on the front of the house neighboring with the town hall. The latter would have been forgotten if there had not been for the notes of Jaroslav Schiebl.

According to the narration of a 90-year-old woman recorded by Ladislav Labek, Zumbera was a marauding knight. He resided in a castle near Litice. Together with Peda of Pecihradek and Radous of Radyne, they formed a trio of feared outlaws. But the reality could have been different. Zumbera could have been the symbol of market order as well, no one is able to tell now. On old photographs, Zumbera’s statue can be seen on the column of a fountain situated in the North-East corner of the square. The fountain had a special significance for medieval Pilseners:

Every true Pilsen citizen was baptized with Zumbera’s water until the removal of the fountains from the square. The baptismal water in the vestry of the parsonage church was taken from the Zumbera fountain. It was due to its being the closest of all the four town fountains. The brass baptismal jug with which Pilseners were being baptized has been preserved in the Ethnographic museum.

The figure of Smorabus is historically younger. The personality is not veiled with any secret: there was a real historically recorded person. Smorabus’s personality is connected with the Pilsen sharpshooters. The Smorabus figure and his social function is discussed and remembered in Schiebel’s book called the Burgher in Arms (Mestan ve zbroji).

A poor burgher lady Smuravi explained her opinion on the coming to existence of the name Smorabus. Her memories were recorded in 1882:

In earlier years, a corps servant was jumping in a funny way in front of the corps musical body, whenever the burgher sharpshooters marched out in the town. He was dressed as a harlequin with a beater in his hand. During shooting at a target, Smorabus pointed at the target with his beater, showing thus the place of the hit. Whatever name the person had, in Pilsen, he was always called simply Smorabus. Such a „title“ came to existence in the following way: more than 200 years ago, there lived in Pilsen, a wealthy and respected family of Smuravi. Members of the family were aldermen, some, in their turn, became mayors. As the time passed by, the Smuravi became poor as a result of various coincidences. One of the family was therefore made to accept the post of the sharpshooters‘ corps servant. He became known for his merry dance creations in front of the music band. The public later mangled his name, turning it into Smorabus. Such a „title“ was then attributed to all these military servants.

The Golden Book of Pilsen Legends by Vladimir Havlic was published by the publishing house Vesely in 1995. The book was written at the base of Schiebl’s collection Pilsen in Tale, Legend, Tradition, and Wit. The book by Vladimir Havlic was published with the financial support of Ceska sporitelna, a.s., Pilsen dept., at the occasion of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of foundation of Pilsen.