18 September 2012

This is a "Jenny Haniver"

A Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen.

One suggestion for the origin of the term was the French phrase jeune d'Anvers ('young [person] of Antwerp'). British sailors "cockneyed" this description into the personal name "Jenny Hanvers."..

For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these "mermaids" out of dried skates. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks. Jenny Hanivers have been created to look like devils, angels and dragons...

The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner warned that these were merely disfigured rays, and should not be believed to be miniature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time.
Text and image from Wikipedia.


  1. It appears that I am quite late to comment, but as a Frenchman and student of English, the various names make me think of Jenny Greenteeth, which in French would be Jenny (perhaps Jeannie) Dents Vertes, which would sound a bit like "d'Anvers."
    And as a water-dweller, Jenny would be my main suspect.


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