Marketing under a name under a name “false feet” Or “mannequin feet”, silicone feet are sold at prices ranging from €45 to €277. These full-size reproductions are often presented as “collectibles,” models for painters and photographers, or as displays to display foot jewelry. But the word “fetched” appears frequently on commercial websites that flaunt the beauty of these replicas, size 36 or 37, with leather “Nice” and the plant “flex”, It is delivered in a secret envelope … It is possible to place the most complex of them in different positions: when equipped with a skeleton, these feet can be arched in heeled shoes, prudently placed in a position of rest or, on the contrary, electrified as if with pleasure, spread Their fingers were in a bunch of violets under the influence of violent convulsions. These crafts made in China are often accompanied by poorly translated product sheets that sound like strange poems: “Beautiful Natural Bleeding Feet”, “Almost Live Like Real”, “This Product Is Soft To The Touch, 100% Real Product Virtual Leather” “In Secret Packaging, No One Will Know What’s Inside”.
The astonishing dimension of these floppy-toed feet, as if cut off from a corpse, evokes a form of pathological desire. They exude the same fascination as those mummified dead who so fascinated Western elites in the nineteenth century. in this book mummies Published by Murmure (1), jurist and historian Catherine Delister, traces the history of this restless desire for bodies preserved from rotting, immortal bodies… “This mystery of the mummies, dead but […] so well preserved that it looks alive” It fuels our imaginations, she says, not without pointing out the wholly artificial side of this myth.
Regarding the mummy’s foot, it all began in 1798: the writer and diplomat Dominique Vivant Denon was invited by Napoleon to take part in the Egyptian campaign. He visits graves and fills his pockets with loot along the way. Thus he takes poetry from the grave “Soft, smooth, blond” But above all a part of a corpse is amazed by its beauty. this part – “A little mummy’s foot… without a doubt a young woman’s foot, a princess’ foot” – He becomes one of the treasures of his collection.
In 1802, his travel memoirs were such a success that they were quickly translated into various languages. The account he gave of his discovery contributes to popularizing the fashion that Catherine Delister calls Egyptomania, referring to all these perversions (libido, sexual obsession, etc.) that will soon see the light of day in Western vocabulary. Indeed, mummy-striping sessions – very close to striptease – are prevalent among the elite. In the Victorian era, members of British high society made sure to bring a mummy from their trip to Egypt, and in the name of science, educated societies indulged in the joy of desecration mixed with necrophilia. In 1827, a 20-year-old English orphan, Jane Webb, published a science fiction novel called mummy – Supposedly set in the year 2126 – which tells the story of a mummy awakened by electricity and wants revenge. This is the beginning of a long series of spectral manifestations. The mummy soon becomes what researcher Renan Polis calls (2) “Colonial Return”, The embodiment of a dream that resembles a funeral.
In 1840, Théophile Gautier fueled this sinister imagination Mummy feet. The narrator of the story finds the foot of the daughter of Pharaoh in a shop selling second-hand things. “The young man decides to buy it and use a paperweight”, Catherine Delister says: That same evening, the ghost of a little princess appeared asking for her amputated limb. Edgar Allan Poe (1846), Arthur Conan Doyle (1890), Saxe Romer (1903) and then Henry Rider Haggard (1913) in turn exploit the vein in literature: the mummy becomes a recurring figure of a young woman, 3,000 years old, who emerges from his cocoon sometimes to be killed for love. In the cinema, it was Georges Millier, in 1899, who opened the first film Mummy (titled Cleopatra). damn movie. The basics are laid The historian summarizes: In our imagination the mummy symbolizes error. It is the woman turned into a commodity, bereft of power, and usurped in her eternal sleep, who bursts into the heart of civilization and haunts us. This mummy personifies our bad conscience. It gnaws us from the inside, because remorse can gnaw those who have opened a grave.
Oddly enough, the first appearance of the mummy in the West is precisely linked to the practice of cannibalism: as Catherine Delister reveals, it is “Through the pharmacopoeia, Europe recognizes mummies.” From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, doctors prescribed the mummy as a cure for almost all diseases. “As early as the tenth century, the meat of the mummies appears to have been boiled. Then, very quickly but without being able to tell the exact date, it is made the habit of grinding whole mummies and selling them in powdered form. Earaches, toothaches, fractures, bruises, abscesses, paralysis, heartaches… it’s meant to cure everything! “Francois 1er allegedly never parted with a small bag containing an emergency potion”, The historian mentions again. In fact, the idea is not ridiculous: they are embalmed with resins or vegetable oils – myrrh, cinnamon, aloe vera, beeswax, camphor, etc. The mummies are impregnated with substances known for their medicinal virtues.
The problem is that demand is rising. Traffic like that Egyptian merchants can no longer respond to them. The solution ? Fake mummies! Or rather, the recently mummified corpses, sometimes the corpses of slaves or those condemned to death, but also the corpses of victims of the plague or smallpox. ” Ambroise Barry, in 1580, denounced in his book Mummy and unicorn speech The sins of this trade in sometimes contaminated corpses: selling food and drink “The stinking and infected carrion of the hanging, he is indignant, Or from the fiercest scoundrel of the inhabitants of Egypt, or smallpox, or plague, or miscreants [lépreux, ndlr]“. Although the adulterated mummy makes a mess, this product remains on the shelves of the best factories for a long time. It wasn’t until the 18th century that cut human remains were no longer distributed as medicine. But mummies remain in our eyes poisonous and poisonous. Like all that bothers. Feet cut off with so-called “food grade” silicone is just the (barely) sterile version.
(1) mummies Written by Catherine Delister, De Marmar Editions, 2021.
(2) The Mummy, from Khufu to Hollywood Written by Renan Polis, Amateur Editions, 2001.