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CotBPBlackPearlfigurehead

The figurehead of the Black Pearl.

"If the figurehead was on Opawiwato, Sterling had to find it; by what ever means necessary."
Gunner[src]

A figurehead was a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships. Mariners were a superstitious bunch, and they believed that a woman on board a ship would always bring bad luck. They made one exception: wooden women were allowed, but only if they were nailed to the bow as a figurehead.

HistoryEdit

Silent Mary figurehead

The figurehead of the Silent Mary.

"Mates, I now libate—if there indeed be such a word, which I rather doubt—our lovely angel here. May she watch out for us, keep us safe, and guide us on our journeys!"
Jack Sparrow to his crew[src]

Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation (e.g. the Viking ships of ca. A.D. 800–1100), the general practice was introduced with the galleons of the 16th century, as the figurehead as such could not come to be until ships had an actual head structure on which to place it.

Like all mariners, pirates were a superstitious bunch, and they believed that women on board a ship would always bring bad luck. They made one exception: wooden women were allowed, but only if they were nailed to the bow as a figurehead. Mariners believed the eyes of the figurehead would help their ship to find its way at sea.[1]

Pirate ships of the 18th century were known to have colorful figureheads. The Black Pearl's figurehead shows a beautiful woman[1], a graceful black angel[2], with an outstretched left arm and a bird, a black dove[2], about to take flight from her hand; this symbolized Jack's goal for freedom. Other notable figureheads include the Misty Lady (a mermaid), the Flying Dutchman (the Grim Reaper)[3], and the Queen Anne's Revenge (a demonic skeleton holding a spear and a goblet).[4]

The largest warships of the British Royal Navy carried the figureheads that proclaimed their allegiance to the Crown of England and the British monarchy. The figurehead of the HMS Dauntless showed a lion and a unicorn, the symbols of England and Scotland, holding together the Royal coat of arms of Great Britain. Lord Cutler Beckett's flagship, the HMS Endeavour, had a similar figurehead with the two animals holding a red shield with three identical gold lions, the Royal Arms of England.

Living figurehead

The figurehead of the Silent Mary comes to life.

The Spanish Royal Navy galleon Silent Mary had the figurehead of a woman holding a spear and a shield. After decades of imprisonment in the haunted waters of the Devil's Triangle the ship and its crew returned to the Seven Seas as ghostly specters, with the ship becoming a living tool of Capitán Salazar's vengeance against the pirates in the Caribbean. When the Mary attacked the Black Pearl, Salazar used his supernatural powers to bring his ship's figurehead to life, using the wooden beast to hunt Captain Jack Sparrow.[5]

Behind the scenesEdit

QAR figurehead

The figurehead of the Queen Anne's Revenge.

"The figurehead of the Queen Anne's Revenge was based on Blackbeard's real flag, which was a great horned skeleton holding a goblet of wine in one hand and spear in the other; as if he's toasting his victims."
John Myhre[src]
  • The figurehead on the Queen Anne's Revenge was based on Blackbeard's historical pirate flag, which had a great horned skeleton holding a goblet of wine in one hand and a spear in the other.[4] However, in real-world history, Blackbeard never had such a figurehead aboard the Revenge.
  • One of the quests in Pirates of the Caribbean Online requires a player to recover the figurehead of the Black Harbinger.
  • The instruction booklet for the Lego Silent Mary set mistakenly calls the Silent Mary's figurehead "Silent Mary Masthead". The masthead is the uppermost point of a mast.

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit