Friday, February 27, 2009

You learn something new every day

The photo above is a Jenny Haniver. That's not the name of a person, it's the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen. [wiki] One suggestion for the origin of the term was "jeune d'Anvers" (French for Antwerp is Anvers), that is "young girl of Antwerp." British sailors "cockneyed" this description into the personal name "Jenny Hanvers." For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these "mermaids" out of dried cuttlefish. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks. Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons. It is possible that Jenny Hanivers were the source of some tales of dragons during the Middle Ages, and they affirmed people's belief in dragons. Jenny Hanivers may also have started the legends of Mermaids. (via Cynical-C) At Susology, the story of an artist currently creating Jenny Hanivers. Photo credit: Awkward Conversations post on "Rogue Taxidermy: The Jenny Haniver".

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