Last week the remains of Julia Pastrana also known as the ‘uglies woman in the world’, and the ‘ ape woman’ was returned from Norway to Mexico where she was finally put to rest in the soil of her homeland at Sinaloa de Leyva on the 12 of February 2013
Her story can be found here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Pastrana
The Victorian era was a time of great curiosity, the camera had been invented, the world was being explored, and Charles Darwins theory of Evolution sent scientist, authors, and adventurers on a chase to find the missing link. Poor Julia Pastrana who suffered from hypertrichosis was a likely candidate, rumors being, she was the result of the mating of an ape with a woman.
She died in 1860 from childbirth complication in Moscow when she was just 26 years old, her infant son who was born with the same disorder lived only three days. Her husband and manager Theodore Lent has taught her to dance and sing, after her death he had both her and her infant son preserved and embalmed, then enriched himself by exhibiting them as a rare curiosity, he even married another woman with a similar deformity calling her Julia’s sister. Theodore Lent died in an insane asylum.
Somehow her mummified remains traveled to Scandinavia, where they were bought in the 1920’s by a Norwegian circus and displayed till the 1970’s. They were eventually kept in a storage facility that was broken into, and the bodies vandalized.
Since 1990 she was kept in a sealed coffin, in the Oslo university at the Department of Anatomy.
It took the initiative of Ms. Barbata to bring her sad plight to light. In September 2005 a mass was said for her, but it would be years before the Norwegian government finally released the body.
Julia was a Catholic, born with a terrible disfigurement, she was a human being, a woman a mother, it is said she had a beautiful, soft voice, that she was kind, insecure, educated – she could read and write in three languages, she gave to charities, she was mocked, and ridiculed, she died from childbirth complications like so many women from her era. She was a person just like you and me. She did not deserve to be treated like a ‘ freak’, a ‘ specimen’ for observation.
I am shamed by the Norwegian governments reluctance, and procrastination in handing over her remains for burial !