Statue of Liberty inspired by an Arab woman, researchers say

Sculptor of iconic monument began designing the statue based on his previous design that began as a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant.

December 2, 2015 08:35
1 minute read.
A helicopter flies above the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor

A helicopter flies above the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Statue of Liberty was inspired by a project representing an Arab woman guarding the Suez Canal, according to an AFP report. 

The statue is an iconic symbol of freedom that welcomed the arrival of millions of immigrants to the US and the research on the statue is especially pertinent now, as the US debates the acceptance of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The creator of the statue, French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, developed on his travels to Egypt in 1855-1856 a "passion for large-scale public monuments and colossal sculptures," said the US National Park Service, which guards the Statue of Liberty in New York.

In 1869, Egypt sought proposals to build a lighthouse for the Suez Canal and Bartholdi designed a huge statue of a robed woman holding a torch, which he called "Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia," according to the report.

According to the US Smithsonian Institution, Barry Moreno, who has written about "Lady Liberty," said the sculpture originally took the "form of a veiled peasant woman."

"Bartholdi produced a series of drawings in which the proposed statue began as a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant, and gradually evolved into a colossal goddess," added Edward Berenson, who has also written about the subject.

In 1870, Bartholdi began designing the Statue of Liberty based on his previous design, according to AFP. It was inaugurated in 1886, a gift from the French people to the United States representing "Liberty Enlightening the World."

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