Sunday, September 5, 2010

Unmentioned Egyptian Origens

While we were taking al iftar today, we were watching a TV program called "Rames Hawl al al alam", this program is about this guy Rames who travel around the world and shows some information about each place with a touch of humor, really nice, so this time he is in Ameerika, to be more exacts in L.A, he was in company of a tourist guide, when they went to visit the Liberty statue, he said in Arabic that he will now ask to the guide a shay question...the question was..is it true that this statue was originally for Egypt and not for USA?...So the guide smiled and answer YES it was.

Fotographer Alex Ramon
You should have seen the proud in my husband (Egyptian btw) when he listened this, I really didn't know it aether so it was a big surprise for us to hear that, then I came to google and search, but I really don't know why weekipedia doesn't mention this....any one???.....but I found this article very interesting about the real history of the statue:




She was supposed to look like an Arab peasant, robed in the folds of Muslim precepts.
she was supposed to be the welcome ma'am at Port Said in Egypt, that her name was supposed to be either Egypt or Progress, and that the flame she was brandishing was to symbolize the light she was bringing to Asia, which had claims to newness all its own.

The Statue of Liberty was really inspired by the huge statues at Abu Simbel (Egypt). Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the statue designed the American Lady of Liberty as 'Egypt carrying the light of Asia'. However, the Khedive Ismail decided that the project was too expensive, so the 'Light of Asia' was sent to the US instead, where she became the Statue of Liberty.

Lighting the Way to Asia
All this from the imaginative scruffles of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the Alsatian-French sculptor who'd fallen in love with his own Orientalist fantasies about the Middle East after a trip to Egypt's Luxor spreads in 1855. He liked Egypt's colossal sculptures, those "granite beings of imperturpable majesty" with their eyes seemingly "fixed on the limitless future." He liked just as much the then-fashionable notions of Europeans thinking themselves the "Orient"'s best thing since unsliced baklava. Bartholdi returned to Egypt in 1869 with the blueprints for a toga-draped giant of a woman who'd double-up as a lighthouse at the entrance of the Suez Canal, which opened that year to fanfare and (British and French) stockholders' delight.

The Suez Canal may have been in Egypt. But Egypt wasn't reaping its monetary benefits. The American Civil War had done wonders for Egyptian wealth thanks to the blockade of Southern cotton, which turned Egyptian cotton into gold. But the price of cotton crashed after the Civil War and so did Egypt's economy. Suez revenue could have picked up the slack. Instead, it went into the pockets of European investors (until Egypt's Gama Abdel Nasser nationalized the waterway in 1956, to the disingenuous fury of France and Britain).

From Lady Egypt to Lady Liberty
As Bartholdi was sketching one likeness of his great statue after another, it became apparent that his plan would never get Egypt's financing. Bartholdi was crushed. He sailed to New York. And there, as his ship was entering New York Harbor, he saw Bedloe's Island, deserted, oval-shaped, perfectly positioned to bear his creation. She wouldn't be Egypt. But she'd still be Barthold's. He worked out an arrangement with Gustav Eiffel to build the statue in 350 pieces in Paris, for the French government to pay for the statue (that was back when French and Americans had more respect than reproach for each other), and with American donors to pay for the 89-foot pedestal. Bartholdi's goal was to have the dedication coincide with the centennial of the American Revolution, somewhere around July 4, 1876.

It happened a bit later, on Oct. 28, 1886, with a military, naval and civic parade in Manhattan, ending at the Battery at the tip of the island, with Gen. Charles P. Stone, who as the statue's American engineer, was essentially its midwife, was the parade's grand marshal. She was no longer an Egyptian woman. She was "Liberty Enlightening the World."

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