Amerindian Mummy That Inspired Tintin Story Sparks Controversy In Belgium

Both zoo and museum claim to own the authentic Rascar Capac, which was the cover of one of the adventures written by Hergé.

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Tintin arouses passions and, in recent days, conflicts in Belgium. A museum and a zoo claim to own the Amerindian mummy that inspired Hergé for the cover of the album “The Seven Crystal Balls“.

“We don’t attract visitors by promising pandas,” said Alexandra De Poorter, director general of the Royal Museums of Art and History, referring to the Pairi Daiza zoo’s Chinese stars.

This zoo, located in the Wallonia region (south) and a mainstay of Belgian tourism, claimed last week that it housed the “authentic mummy named Rascar Capac”.

This represents an affront to the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Brussels, which guarantees that the creator of Tintin (1907-1983) visited its installations “regularly” and reproduced many objects on display.

The controversy did not take long to set in, especially when this cultural institution thought it had convinced everyone ten years ago about the importance of “their” Amerindian mummy.

After veiled accusations of misleading advertising, the zoo lamented “the controversy started by the Royal Museums” and tried to calm tempers by ensuring that no one really knows which mummy inspired Hergé.

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The only point of consensus is that the 2,000-year-old mummy with hair and ornaments, acquired by Pairi Daiza in 2008, was part of a 1979 exhibition in Brussels entitled “The Imaginary Museum of Tintin”.

Hergé himself, whose name was Georges Remi, visited this exhibition, conceived for the 50th anniversary of the first album (“Tintin in the country of the Soviets”), based on real objects that inspired his work.

“We have to stop arguing. Hergé looked at many Inca mummies, but his first depictions of Rascar Capac are essentially based on the Larousse dictionary of the time,” explains Goddin.

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And this model, brought from Peru in the collections of French explorer Charles Wiener (1851-1913), is now in the famous ethnological museum of Quai Branly in Paris, he says.

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