- (PHOTO:YouTube Clip/Enio Civici)
A Mexican woman who was touted across the world as a circus exhibition has finally been laid to rest after her body was kept in a museum on public show for more than 150 years.
Julia Pastrana, who died in 1860, was born with a genetic condition that covered her face in hair. She traveled Europe as part of an act showing off her hairy face and body, jutting jaw and other deformities. At the age of 20, she became known as the "Ape Woman," according to the Associated Press.
When she died it was decided that she should continue to be put on show in a museum, but after more than a century of increasing debate and changing attitudes about whether human remains should be put on show in such a way, she has finally been laid to rest.
"You know I have mixed feelings," Mexican Ambassador Martha Barcena Coqui told AP. "In one way, I think she had a very interesting life and maybe she enjoyed visiting and traveling and seeing all the places, but at the same time I think it must have been very sad to travel to these places not as a normal human being but as a matter of exhibition, as something weird to be talked about."
Pastrana eventually married but became ill during child birth and died in 1860 while living in Moscow, Russia, AP has stated. Her remains were then put on exhibition before ending up at the University of Oslo Museum, where some Mexican officials petitioned to have Pastrana's remains returned to her homeland.
"Norway has become in recent times more uncomfortable about their holding of human remains," Tiffany Jenkins, author of "Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: the crisis of cultural authority" told AP. She said the return of her remains to their homelands had become "symbolic, in a way, of making an apology."
"Julia Pastrana has come home," said Saul Rubio Ayala, Mayor of Pastrana's hometown of Sinaloa de Leyva. "Julia has been reborn among us. Let us never see another woman be turned into an object of commerce."