Maria Celeste figurine made of resin to look and feel like wood. It's a replica of a historical figure often used on the bowsprit of sailing ships. Beautifully detailed, and a definite talking point!
Villages, babies and ships were all named after her. One of these ships was the Nightingale, a fast and luxurious vessel built for the wealthy - that was used, in her final voyages to carry American prospectors to the Australian gold rush, to import tea from China and to transport slaves from Africa to America.
Since the very first moment ships began to cross the seas, their prows and sterns have been decorated - perhaps to give a different sense of identity.
Vikings, Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans all embellished their vessels most prominent parts with carvings that have come to be known as figureheads.
This custom was largely practiced and was the peak of its popularity between the 16th and the 19th centuries. In the years following, they were made smaller and eventually disappeared entirely - not only because of their greta cost, but also due to the fact that the drag they created had a negative effect on the handling of a ship.
Their quality and often imposing size showed the importance of the company or the person that owned the ship. On the other hand, figureheads were useful so that people who couldn't read or write could recognise the ships.
Figureheads also played an important role to overcome the fears of superstitious sailors and ship-hands. They were thought to have the power to keep storms and monsters from the deep at bay.
It was a very popular belief among sailors that their souls would be condemned to roam the seas if they shipwrecked in a figurehead-less ship.
Dimensions: Height 35cm
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Buyers outside UK will pay local custom duty if any as per buyer's country rules.