The Statue of Liberty was originally to be a Muslim Woman

By William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Statue of Liberty) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By The original statue, at its conceptual stage, was named “Egypt Carrying the Light To Asia.” It was supposed to symbolize progress. The lantern in the upraised hand was supposed to function as a lighthouse.

Lady Liberty was a French gift to the United States as a part of a celebration of the alliance between the two nations. This friendship was forged at the time of French Revolution. The structure was the design of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel tower fame.

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the statue, was also a French citizen. He, however, found inspiration from a locale very different from his native France: Egypt. He visited Abu Simbel in 1855 and was impressed by the Nubian monuments he found there. The tombs in Abu Simbel were guarded by colossal figures. Bartholdi became fascinated by such ancient architectures and soon developed, as National Park Service puts it, a passion for colossal structures. He soon pushed this passion to a proposal for inauguration of Suez Canal.

The original proposal of Bartholdi involved an 86-foot tall robed and veiled woman sited on a 48-foot tall pedestal at the Suez Canal entrance. Egyptian leaders rejected the proposal for being too expensive. He subsequently went to the U.S. carrying his design. Bartholdi made a few modifications like transforming the Muslim woman to a statue personifying liberty. There was a functional difference as well: the new design did not offer navigational assistance to boats. Instead, it would illuminate the way for all immigrants entering the United States.

Bartholdi collaborated with Eiffel in designing the statue, now renamed as “Liberty Enlightening the World.” The U.S. covered the expenses for the pedestal, while France sponsored the construction of the statue and subsequent assembling in the U.S.


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