An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...

Navigational Instruments and their uses in the study of a woman's shape.

Francis Galton (1822 - 1911), a very colorful figure of Victorian England, a universal scientist, studied many mysteries and occurrences, but above all he was interested in counting and measuring of almost anything. He measured heads, noses, counted by passers, he thought up a way of evaluating the prettiness or ugliness of girls of various cities and drew up the 'Map of Beauty', he categorized the face colors of spectators at the horse races, etc. He also traveled a lot. 
In 1849 he went on a huge hunting trip to Africa, and when he first saw the Hotentot women, he became enchanted by their exceptionally large buttocks (which is their typical anthropological feature). Of course he immediately began wondering how he could measure them. This unfortunately was not a simple matter, he could not speak their language and did not know how the women, or the tribesmen would react to his actions. However, he did find a way and described it as follows in his memoirs: 
"suddenly my gaze fell on my sextants and I had a revelation. I did some measurements of the women from various angles, then with my tape measure I measured exactly the distance from where I was to where she stood. In this way, knowing the distance and the angles of observation, I calculated everything that I needed using trigonometry and logarithms". 
The papers, though, made fun of his use of astronomical and navigational instruments for the study of a woman's shape, but most importantly, the result were objective and collected in such a way that they did not anger the locals. 
However, he did not always manage to behave tactfully when dealing with natives. He did not take part in the welcoming ceremony during which the chief of the tribe took a drink in his mouth and generously splashed it on the face of his guest (as was done years ago by hairdressers and ironers). Also, at one time, King Nangoro sent him Princess Champagne to spend an evening with. Galton, as was expected of a gentleman, dressed for his date with the Princess in his best and only suit of pure white. However, when he saw that the princess was all covered in butter and ochre he asked her to leave. Here the sextant would not have been of any use. 

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Galton in action. 

 


 

(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003

v.16

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