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'Merman', Javanese or Dutch, 1801-1900

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This ‘merman’ is a composite model formed of parts of different animals. It creates an imaginary beast often called a chimera. Mermen and mermaids exist in myths and legends worldwide. This example is either Dutch or Javanese and examples of such beings were sought after in Britain by wealthy gentlemen. They were seen as essential additions to their ‘cabinet of curiosities’. These were collections of obscure and wonderful artefacts. This chimera is made of fish skin, bone, and scales covered in thin paper. It also has animal fur, teeth, claws and tissue attached to heighten the appearance of a ‘real’ animal.

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Glossary: indigenious beliefs

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Glossary: chimera

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