Have you seen the catalogue that advertises special order dolls made in the likeness of your child?
Interestingly, during the golden period of sailing in the 19th century, most ships featured a figurehead below the bow sprit. The detailed wooden carvings were sometimes ordered to resemble the ship’s owner, his wife or even his children. However, they were a bit bigger than a doll!
These larger than life figureheads, considered symbols of protection and good fortune, gave an almost human personality to their respective ships. Some were graceful such as a maiden with a bouquet of flowers pressed to her breast, some were fierce looking and had glaring eyes; and those that featured children were rather charming. Eagles were also a favored figurehead of the era.
The carvers of these dramatic figureheads considered themselves artisans rather than artists. Their slow and tedious sculpting required great skill, and lucky for all of us, the figureheads they carved almost always outlived the ships they graced.
That said, Mystic Seaport acquired a dramatic collection of figureheads and ships’ carvings which, since 1934, have provided visitors with a rare chance to view these most romantic and mysterious artifacts from the age of sail.
The Figureheads exhibit in the Wendell Building is truly awesome – a four-star exhibit that is a must-see during your Mystic Seaport visit.
Check out the many winter daily happenings at Mystic Seaport at our website: www.mysticseaport.org.