Julia Pastrana, ein Menschenungeheuer

Dublin Core


Julia Pastrana, ein Menschenungeheuer


Interview with Pastrana


Description of physical appearance and interview with Pastrana.


Die Gartenlaube


Die Gartenlaube




Mason Allred, Translator








Newspaper Article


Link (p. 657)
 (p. 658)
Link (p. 659)

Text Item Type Metadata


Translation by Mason Allred:

Julia Pastrana
A Human Monstrosity

(with depiction)

It has been justifiably stated that the even the most exuberant imagination is not capable of conceiving of combinations with such enthralling force, as life and history so frequently do. The example of the human being represented here, and we might add, described with striking fidelity, shows us that nature in her wonderful moods and inclinations occasionally produces corruptions and caricatures, which exceed all monstrosity that superstition, overactive imagination, or fear of ghosts ever contrived in horrors.
For several years now all the different areas of the world have sent examples of their individual racial creations, Negroes, and Mulatoes, Kasser and Hottentots and as a curiosity of odd deformity the Aztecs have provoked a lively interest from scientists and laymen with their grotesque ugliness. The increasing ease of transportation, which now combs through every previously hidden corner for all manner of remarkable things, in order to stimulate and exploit the ever more sophisticated public curiosity has had the positive effect of benefiting our perspective of living organisms as well as scientific research by presenting material, which would be otherwise difficult to access.
In this respect, the appearance of the female creature, named Julia Pastrana, completely deserves the interest, which it has provoked everywhere. If, in fact, the speculative industrialization goes so far as to avail itself by producing a detestable deformed baby of the aesthetic scale of the theater stage, and if there are writers, who commit pen to paper for their living, who would put such a monstrosity into a story, then a protest against such cynical conduct would be just as justified as it would be beneficial. It would have been nice, if the police would have considered these matters for which they were induced to forbid her, after the second performance, from further appearances as a monster in the theater play written for her, “der curierte Meyer”. Now the “miss”, as she is called by her American escort, doesn’t appear on stage of the Kroll Opera House anymore, but rather in a special hall in the same building, without the apparatus of the theatrical mystique and without the apparently to her very satisfactory pleasure of applause and curtain calls.
In absence of the opportunity for a personal encounter, may it please the reader to accompany the reporter on a visit, which the artist of the Mexican Miss joined in on. The permission was willingly given by the manager of the lady and soon we were standing across from the sight, in the room which the Miss and her guardian share. Although we both have never missed an opportunity to see any such remarkable things at any time they were presented to our view, we must admit that the monstrosity and oddity of the creature in front of us far exceeded all extraordinary organic creations we had ever seen.
[torn page in image] ??????... image both in character of the expression and in the details perfectly represents a life-like?? Her skull is covered with a fullness of fine shiny black hair, which Miss Julia loves to artistically style and braid, after the manner of civilized women. For special occasions the braids are adorned with pearls, flower garlands, and other accessories. Her forehead is uncommonly narrow and obtuse, barely two fingers wide and covered with movable cushions of fat of considerable strength. Her whole face is, like her whole body, covered in black hair, thicker in some parts than others. This strange hair growth begins with fine small hairs on her forehead and thickens in the area of the eyebrows into two massive bristly bunches; her eyelashes are just as remarkably thick, which make her dark black eyes appear all the more expressive. The facial angle matches more the normal Caucasian one, than any other race. Her nose is bulging, strong, with a wide bridge and enlarged nostrils [this is the zoological term not the normal anatomical word for humans], with great flexibility, from the look of it apparently without nose bone or cartilage. The place where the edges of the nose and alar wing of the nose meet the face is marked by thick bunches of hair. The cheekbones protrude moderately but sink quite bluntly against the lower areas of the face. The most remarkable is shape of the mouth, which is enclosed with two bulging lips, behind which the blood red gums of the mouth push forward in a great bow, where they are usually visible. The position of the teeth is just as irregular, as their shape. The teeth of the lower jaw are complete, whereby only the back teeth have completely developed in the upper jaw. Her tongue is a lumpy mass of muscle and of great breadth. Her chin is uncommonly short, her ears uncommonly large. Her hair, with which her tan face is covered, thickens on the cheeks to make side burns and on the chin to make a thick goatee. Her mustache is thinner. But her ears are totally hairy, long clumps of hair hang from her lobes especially. Her neck, chest, arms and partially the back of her hands appear to be covered in hair. The expression of her face in no way signals intelligence. Her eyes have a gloomy look, which provokes pity.
“Miss Julia” was busy preparing her toilette when we arrived. She did not seem adversely affected by our intrusion and welcomed us with a friendly handshake. When she heard that my colleague intended to conjure her lovely features onto paper with his pen, she seemed very pleased and directed her attention primarily to this. The conversation was held in English and it cannot be denied that she conducted herself with confidence and clarity in all the topics that came up. Of course, we didn’t exactly discuss Kosmos [this is a scientific multi-volume work by Alexander von Humboldt]. With satisfaction she mentioned the triumphs she had yielded on her trips through America and England. Indeed, she claimed to have received more than twenty proposal for marriage. In answer to my question as to why she had not granted one of the suitors her hand, she replied, “none of them were rich enough.” I then became quite suspicious of her guardian, who had […] convinced this poor creature of this nonsense. [however?] it is not impossible that some…are not disinclined to a marriage [page 658 ends] from which the monstrosity of his wife would insure a good monetary return.
Aside from English Miss Julia is supposedly proficient in Spanish; she sings a bit, dances the “Highland fling” with great skill and is versed in household and woman’s work. Should she meanwhile want write her memoires she would currently need to dictate it, regarding this cultural blessing she is still in the beginning stages.
One of her managers [Fuehrer] passes out published English brochures about her origins with great effort [sweatiness]. The manager of the Mexican lady reports, Julia Pastrana, who is supposedly now 23 years old was found as a little child in the caves of the Sierra Madre in an area far from all human residences, but full of all kinds of beasts, monkey, bears, and richly blessed. Otherwise he gives no precise authenticating information about her earlier circumstances.
As extraordinary as the phenomenon described here is, it can be sufficiently explained through similar incidents of organic degenerations and deformities and requires no new hypotheses, which themselves would be untenable, to build a new theory for improved exploitation of the public curiosity. The areas that are particularly rich in monstrosities are where racial crossbreeding in any case leads to striking organic forms of all kinds.

Original Format

Newspaper Article



Die Gartenlaube, “Julia Pastrana, ein Menschenungeheuer,” Julia Pastrana Online, accessed January 19, 2021, http://juliapastranaonline.com/items/show/27.

Output Formats


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>