The Hottentot Venus was not a piece of art at all. Instead, it rather, she was a person named Sarah Baartman. An indigenous woman from an area now located in South Africa, Baartman was taken to London in 1810 and paraded through Europe, on display for the public to gawk at her full figure and for scientists to explore the reasons for her voluptuous appearance. The indignities continued past her death at the age of 26 until 1985, Baartman's sex organs and brain were housed in Paris' Musee de l'Homme, ostensibly for scientific study.
Current Status: Calls by South Africans for the return of Baartman's remains began in the early 1980s; bowing to pressure, the Musee de l'Homme took the body off display. In 1992, Nelson Mandela, then the president of South Africa, issued a formal request for the Baartman's return, but it took a decade more of hand wringing for the French to repatriate her remains. She was buried in South Africa on August 9, 2002.
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