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4 The Migrating Cannibal: Anthropophagy at Home and at the Edge of the World

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the cannibalizing woman in three discrete contexts that pose special representational challenges: ethnographic reports from the Americas, Willem Janszoon Blaeu's c. 1635 map of the Arctic regions and the frontispiece to the Arctic maps in his son's 1665 Atlas Maior, and finally, an ivory Kunstkammer sculpture by the German artist Leonhard Kern. While much has been written about the colonialist aspects of Amerindian cannibal imagery, the chapter examines how the grotesque, cannibalizing woman emerged from the New World and became an itinerant figure in European iconography. Kern's sculpture is largely devoid of landscape elements and the woman herself bears no identifying costume or accouterments. The grotesqueness of her features obscures explicit ethnicity, although the boy appears to be Caucasian. Ivory underscores the geographic confusion stubbornly attached to the cannibalizing woman. It continues the troubling conflation of the East and West Indies long present in German visual culture.

Keywords: Amerindian cannibal imagery; Atlas Maior; cannibalizing woman; German visual culture; Kunstkammer sculpture; Leonhard Kern

10.1163/9789004275034_006
/content/books/b9789004275034_006
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