Roof ridge decorations / facade signs, why are these things on the roofs in Holland?

facade decorations holland

When you walk around the island of Marken, you also have to look upwards from time to time. The roofs are decorated with so-called "makelaars." What is the story behind these things? what are they for?

Facade signs occur throughout the Netherlands and form a decoration on the transition of two wind protectors along the eaves. In West Netherlands they are usually very simple, but in the North and East they look
much more exuberant. Just like decorated facade stones, they tell something about the origin, profession or belief of the residents. In the past, the meaning of the symbols of the "makelaar" reasonably fixed. Nowadays, residents also design such a decoration themselves to their own imagination. Most symbols are religious in nature, in addition you see many symbols that have to do with professions.

the word "makelaar" also means real estate agent in Dutch. A "makelaar" is someone who brings parties together. A "makelaar" in a house brings together parts of the construction.

Symbols and their meanings:

  • St Andrew's Cross: In order to ward off danger, people sometimes put two at night crossed branches for a bed. Unsafe routes were also indicated by placing crossed branches on the road. The Andrew's crosses on a railway crossing are the modern continuation of this.
  • Anchor: Symbol of hope and sometimes of death. Can be confused with the symbol for a thunder broom.
  • Chalice: Symbol of faith with an evil repelling function in which an inverted chalice represents the womb.
  • Circle: Sun disc that was indispensable in agricultural
    communities. Because he has no beginning or end, it is also a symbol for God and eternity.
  • Circle with 1 dot / hole: mixing of male and female powers.
  • Circle with 3 holes: Holy Trinity
  • Circle with 4 holes: The four seasons.
  • Circle with 5 holes: The five stigmata of Christ.
  • Circle with 7 holes: The seven sacraments, seven days of the week
  • Circle with 8 pointed: star The resurrection of Christ
  • Crescent Moon: Symbol for Mary, Mother of God.
  • Cross: Symbol of faith, defense of evil.
  • Diamond: Figure of fertility, new beginning and eternal life.
  • Flame: Symbol for masculine power, life energy, passion, the Holy Spirit as well as Fertility.
  • Harp or winch: Symbol for purity and cleanliness.
  • Heart with point down: masculinity, mother earth, Sacred Heart, Love. 
  • Heart with point up: Femininity, defense sign against calamity and thunderstorm.
  • Horse head: The use of horse heads would be Germanic
    origin and they were used to invoke spirits, illnesses and mischief. from
    Excavations are known that one originally horse skulls used, but as time went on they were replaced by stylized versions of it. Later it became a sign of prosperity. The more horses a farmer possessed the higher his reputation. A two-horse farmer was higher than a one-horse and the number of horses was made visible through stylized horse heads
    the makelaar.
  • Hostie: Symbol of faith
  • Hourglass: Protection against lightning, witches. It indicates that this is
    property knows only one ruler and it shows the finiteness of life.
  • Hypocritical: Christian faith, repelling of calamity, catholic
  • Nails: The crucifixion of Christ
  • Lily: Cleanliness and purity.
  • Pigeon: Symbol for the Holy Spirit, peace and love.
  • Profession symbols: In a few cases, a makelaar is decorated with signs that show the occupation of the resident. For example, a asklepian for a doctor or pharmacist, a saw for a carpenter, a rifle for a hunter and so on.
  • Snake: The meaning of this symbol is rather ambiguous and difficult to interpret without the resident / user of it property: good and evil, life and death. Others keywords referring to the snake are cunning, fertility, healing, rebirth, wisdom, artistic, humorous, happiness, sovereignty, and royalty
  • Solar wheel Another name for wagon wheel, a Christian symbol that a traveler suggested a safe address overnight stay.
  • Square: Pendant of the saint, spiritual circle and symbolizes physical and masculine qualities.
  • Star, five-pointed: Symbol for witches and other occult figures.
  • Star, six-pointed: Christ symbol, also repelling evil.
  • Swans Symbol: of eternal faith and love. In addition, they come
    in Friesland a lot in combination with an Owl sign. This
    indicates the right of the landowner to keep and trade swans.
  • Triangle: God, the Holy Trinity; with the point up indicates
    masculinity and vice versa on femininity.
  • Thunder broom: A run sign that protects against Donar (Germanic god of
    the thunder) and often occurs on makelaars, wall anchors or in brickwork. The number of "branches" of the thunder broom sometimes indicates the number of generations that have lived in the building.

<---an example of a thunder broom

  • Urn: Sign of mourning in which the fertile ashes symbolize regeneration.
  • Vase: Feminine symbol, representation of the womb, sign of (re) birth.
  • Wheel: Symbolizes the life course.


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