New York: The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of democracy and freedom in the United States, was inspired by a project representing an Arab woman guarding the Suez Canal, researchers said on Wednesday.
The recent findings are especially startling for some in the US amid a heated debate over the arrival of refugees from war-torn Syria and other Muslim majority countries, according to news agency AFP.
French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who traveled to Egypt in 1855-1856, developed there a “passion for large-scale public monuments and colossal sculptures”, said the US National Park Service, which guards the Statue of Liberty in New York.
When the Egyptian government sought proposals in 1869 to build a lighthouse for the Suez Canal, Bartholdi designed a huge statue of a robed woman holding a torch, which he called “Progress Brings Light to Asia”. Others say he called it “Egypt Brings Light to Asia”.
The sculpture originally took the "form of a veiled peasant woman", explained Barry Moreno, author of “The Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia”, as quoted by the US-funded Smithsonian Institution.
“Bartholdi produced a series of drawings in which the proposed statue began as a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant, and gradually evolved into a colossal goddess”, added Edward Berenson, historian and author of “The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story (Icons of America)”.
In 1870, Bartholdi began designing the statue based on his previous design. It was later inaugurated in 1886.