What’s a Figurehead?

IMG_1760What in the world is a figurehead? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know what one was either. To me, they’ve always been those naked women statues on the front of old wooden ships! 🙂

From ancient times through the 20th century, many ships mounted a statue of carved wood called figureheads onto the stem or bowsprit. They often depicted a female deity, religious personage, queen or the captain’s wife or daughter. The reasons vary but most tie to sailor superstitions that being on the front of the ship that they could guide their way safely through the water. Sometimes the female depicted represented the ship’s allegiance, origin and loyalty to their home country. They actually served a practical purpose allowing other sailors and those on land to identify a specific ship as it approached. There, now we both know more than we’ll ever need to know about ‘Figureheads’! 🙂

This is the ONLY house I’ve found with two figureheads, the one on the front above the attic vent is a mermaid while the one on the side is wearing a gown.

You can find this house with two ship front figureheads at the corner of Amelia Street & Whitehead Street in Key West.

IMG_1761     IMG_1759


Filed under key west

2 responses to “What’s a Figurehead?

  1. And it’s the house that has a bar adjacent in the back yard! Makes sense as sailors went out to drink on their leaves from the ships. Right? 🙂

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