We may never know the full tale
of this ghoulish looking object but she is set to be reunited with her merman in
an exhibition next month.
Researchers at Lincoln University
have been working to establish the origins of the Buxton Mermaid, a fake
mummified mermaid, thought to date back to the mid-19th century.
Anita Hollinshead, 43, a
conservation and restoration Masters student studying with the university, came
across the object while working at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and decided to
dig deeper into the history of the object.
Tests carried out at the university
have established that no human bones were used to make the object, despite the
head's skull-like appearance.
But the hair
on the object, which is 14.5in (37cm) high and 6.7in (17cm) wide, is human and
researchers have discovered the tail is from a real fish.
from Japan and the Far East sold the objects as mummified mermaids to supplement
usually bought by sailors as good luck charms or by collectors who would display
them in cabinets of curiosities or at side-shows.
does look like a mummified mermaid," Ms Hollinshead said.
"A lot of
skill has gone into making it and whoever put it together really thought about
what materials to use to make it look real.
from wood and wire and a protein coating has been used to made it look like skin
and fish like."
tests have discovered the teeth were carved from bone while the eyes are thought
to be made from mollusc shell.
During her research, Ms Hollinshead
also found the mermaid used to be held with a merman at the Wellcome Institute
for the History of Medicine in London up until 1982.
The two are to be reunited in an
exhibition at Buxton Museum and Gallery next month after she contacted the
Horniman Museum in London, which now holds the merman.
Ms Hollinshead, who now works as
museum development officer for Derbyshire and Lincolnshire for Leicestershire
County Council, said: "I remember thinking that the Buxton Mermaid didn't look
like the beautiful mermaids you see in paintings or read about.
"I instantly wanted to know what she
was made of, how she was constructed, where she might have come from and the
best ways to preserve her for years to come.
"It could be from Japan or crafted
in London as people began to copy those they'd seen come from Japan and the Far
East but we are hoping to find out more about her history and how she got to be
in this country."
She added: "It's been so exciting to
see the reaction that this research has generated. Mermaids really spark
"Although I have been able to find
out quite a lot about the Buxton Mermaid she is still in many ways a mysterious
creature and I don't think we'll ever uncover her whole story."
Article from the
Huffington Post - Culture Page
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