The Statue Of Liberty 'Based On A Muslim Woman'

The French sculptor wanted her to stand watch over the Suez Canal.
Seth Wenig/AP

The Statue of Liberty was originally conceived of as being a peasant Muslim woman in traditional Islamic dress, according to the Smithsonian Institution's magazine.

She would have stood guard over the Suez Canal in Egypt instead of New York Harbor, were it not for the economic prudence of the reigning Egyptian Khedive of the time, the museum reports.

French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi initially wanted to place an 86-foot-high statue of an Egyptian woman in Port Said on the northern approach to the man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, the Daily Beast reports.

The Suez Canal now houses an 180-foot lighthouse at Port Said.
The Suez Canal now houses an 180-foot lighthouse at Port Said.
IgorSPb via Getty Images

The statue -- named at the conceptual stage as "Egypt Carrying the Light To Asia" -- would have been a symbol of "progress" and the lantern in her upraised hand would have acted as a lighthouse, according to the National Parks Service.

But Egyptian ruler Isma'il Pasha dismissed the project, inspired by Bartholdi's visit to the Nubian monuments in Abu Simbel in 1855, because it was too expensive, writes Edward Berenson in "Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story."

Bartholdi modified his designs, which the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, France, said was influenced by the mythical Colossus of Rhodes. The copper statue was finally built in France by lead structural designer Gustave Eiffel -- creator of the Eiffel Tower.

Jeff Greenberg via Getty Images

It was shipped to the United States in crates, assembled and unveiled on Oct. 28, 1886, as a gift to the U.S. from the people of France.

From ground to torch, "Lady Liberty" stands about 305 feet tall -- almost four times the height of Bartholdi's initial design.

It is 125 feet higher than the 180-foot lighthouse later constructed in Port Said. The Suez Canal was completed in Nov. 1869.

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