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Automaton friar in action

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Published on Oct 30, 2013

This automaton of a friar can imitate a walking man thanks to a wind-up mechanism. The friar's eyes move from side to side, while one arm raises a rosary's cross for an automated kiss and the other arm strikes the chest in the "mea culpa" gesture from the Catholic Latin Mass. This friar was probably made in Spain or southern Germany and is about 450 years old. It has been in the museum's collections since the late 1970s.

This video depicts the original figure. The clothing it wears are from the 1970s.

The automaton and other mechanical figures, precursors to today's robots, are in the collections of the Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History.

More bizarre collection objects: http://blog.americanhistory.si.edu/os...

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