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News Link • American History

The Statue of Liberty was modeled after an Arab woman

• pri.org By Sarah Birnbaum

The Statue of Liberty — that symbol of American freedom and diversity that has greeted immigrants for generations — was originally modeled after an Arab woman.

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The statue's designer, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, was enamored with Egyptian pyramids and monumental sculpture. According to historian Edward Berenson, in the 1860s, Bartholdi decided to build a monument to commemorate the opening of Egypt's Suez Canal.

"And that monument was going to be a woman in the southern opening of the canal holding up a torch over her head and that woman was dressed in Arab peasant garb," Berenson says. But when the ruler of Egypt, Khedewi Ismail Pasha, went bankrupt, the colossal Suez sculpture project was jettisoned.

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