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The Chinese LadyAfong Moy in Early America$
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Nancy E. Davis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190645236

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190645236.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 January 2022

The Final Act

The Final Act

(p.238) 10 The Final Act
The Chinese Lady

Nancy E. Davis

Oxford University Press

With the arrival in New York of the celebrated Chinese junk Keying in 1847, Afong Moy’s presence as a well-known Chinese spectacle was again in demand. Chapter 10 tells us that after an eight-year hiatus, P. T. Barnum, America’s preeminent promoter, engineered her return. Coupled with Tom Thumb, Barnum recounted their origin stories in a seven-page pamphlet and presented them together at his American Museum in 1848. In characteristic fashion, in 1850, Barnum supplanted one Chinese female spectacle with another, a supposed Chinese woman of a younger age named Pwan-ye-koo. She presented in Afong Moy’s place in America and later in England. Foreigner Jenny Lind’s arrival in late 1850 captivated the American public, and Afong Moy—first a billboard for Chinese goods and then an objectified oriental exotic—was completely forgotten.

Keywords:   Keying, P. T. Barnum, Tom Thumb, American Museum, Pwan-yee-koo, origin stories, pamphlet, Jenny Lind

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