Saturday, 27 August 2011
Ningyo: the ugly little mermaid
The original "Feejee mermaid" was displayed by Barnum in the nineteenth century, and should more correctly be described as a Ningyo -- a legendary Japanese creature that is smaller and uglier than the traditional European mermaid. At one time it was not uncommon for Japanese sailors to fake Ningyo specimens by stitching the top half of a dead monkey onto the bottom half of a dead fish. The first mermaid exhibited by Barnum was one of these... a genuine fake, in other words. However, after the original was destroyed in a fire, he resorted to displaying a fake fake! The CFZ model is also a "fake fake", by the way -- no dead animals were involved in its construction!
Great Yokai Encyclopaedia, which was published by CFZ Press last year. My copy (pictured right) was secured at the Weird Weekend for just 12 pounds -- 20 percent off the list price. As if that wasn't enough of a bargain, Richard was then good enough to sign it for me... no doubt doubling its value!