Sarah Baartman was born in South Africa's Eastern Cape in 1789. Her mother died when she was two, and her father, a cattle driver, died when she was an adolescent. She entered domestic service in Cape Town after a Dutch colonist murdered her partner, with whom she had a baby who died.
In October 1810, although illiterate, Baartman allegedly signed a contract with English ship surgeon William Dunlop and mixed-race entrepreneur, Hendrik Cesars, in whose household she worked, saying she would travel to England to take part in shows.
On stage she wore skin-tight, flesh-coloured clothing, as well as beads and feathers, and smoked a pipe. Wealthy customers could pay for private demonstrations in their homes, with their guests allowed to touch her.
Sarah Baartman died at 26 in 1815, but her exhibition continued. Her brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren't repatriated and buried until 2002.
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