Circassian Beauties

Courtesy of the collection of Steven Bolin
Barnum was the master at duping the public for the sake of a dime. One of his earliest humbugs was the FeeJee Mermaid, a piece of taxidermy consisting of monkey’s head atop the tail of a fish. While he didn’t invent the mermaid, he used it to launch his more exotic exhibits, following it in a year with Tom Thumb. Another of his more famous fake acts was the Circassian Woman.

First exhibited in the 1860s, Barnum billed The Circassian Beauty as the purist example of the Caucasian race, brought to America from Circassia, located on the Black Sea. In reality they were beautiful young women made up to look exotic, usually by teasing their hair. They frequently were given a name containing the letter Z. The Circassian Woman could sometimes be seen performing with a large snake.

The young woman in this carte de visite, Aggie Zolutia appears to be an albino, a feature which only adds to her exotic persona.

Courtesy of the collection of Steven Bolin

Annie Jones
Charles Tripp
Laloo the Hindoo
John Coffey the Skeleton Dude
Francesco Lentini the Human Tripod
Ann Leak Born Without Arms
Millie-Christine McCoy
Ciracassian Beauties
Ella Ewing the Missouri Giantess
Tocci Brothers
Tom Thumb
Che Mah the Chinese Dwarf
Maximo and Bartola
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