- Museum number
Figure of a 'mermaid' composed of various materials; lower part made of a fish tail containing armature, head contains no skull, with probably fish jaw and teeth. With wooden lidded storage box.
- Production date
- 18thC (?)
Height: 16.20 centimetres (wooden case)
Length: 38 centimetres (figure)
Weight: 539 grammes (wooden case)
Width: 42 centimetres (wooden case)
Depth: 16.20 centimetres (wooden case)
- Curator's comments
Other examples are held by Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum (A104048) and the Horniman Museum (NH.82.5.223).
For discussion of mermaids, see Tanabe Satoru 田辺悟, 'Ningyo' 人魚 (Hōsei Daigaku Shuppankyoku 法政大学出版局, 2008).
From 'Fake? The Art of Deception' (BMP, 1990):
Prominent in ancient, medieval and modern mythology, mermaids (and, less usually, mermen) were presented as three-dimensional curiosities in European drawing-rooms and popular sideshows from at least the seventeenth century. A significant number of these seem to have originated in East Asia, especially in Japan.
Such 'mermen' consist of the dried parts of monkeys, with fish tails, probably on wood cores.
The BM example was donated by HRH Princess Arthur of Connaught, and was said to have been 'caught' in Japan in the 18th century, and to have been given to Prince Arthur by one Seijiro Arisue.
- On display (G1/wp155)
- Exhibition history
2017-2018 Oct-Feb, London, The British Library, Harry Potter: A History of Magic
- Acquisition date
- Registration number