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A wooden mannequin

A mannequin (also called a mannekin, mannikin, manikin, dummy, or lay figure) is an often articulated doll used by artists, tailors, dressmakers, and others especially to display or fit clothing. During the 1950s, mannequins were also used in nuclear tests to help illustrate the effects of nuclear weapons on human beings.[1][2] The term is also used for life-sized dolls with simulated airways used in the teaching of first aid, CPR, and advanced airway management skills such as intubation and for human figures used in computer simulation to model the behaviour of the human body. Mannequin is also used in English in the sense of fashion model.

Mannequin comes from the French word mannequin, which had acquired the meaning "an artist's jointed model", which in turn came from the Middle Dutch word mannekijn, meaning "little man, figurine".[3]


Mannequins in culture

A pair of mannequins

Mannequins feature prominently in the early paintings of De Chirico.

In the mid 1970s, "mannequin modeling," a human model posing as a mannequin figure, was made famous by New York City's major flagship department store Abraham & Straus, which was located in Downtown Brooklyn.

Mannequins are a common theme in horror fiction, although not nearly as common as baby dolls. While an intense, irrational fear of mannequins (known as pediophobia) is rare, many people nonetheless find them disturbing (due in part perhaps to the uncanny valley effect), especially when not fully assembled.

In "realistic" (non-supernatural) horror, the presence of mannequins or mannequin parts can be a visual cue for insanity, particularly insanity of a violent nature, as in the early Stanley Kubrick film Killer's Kiss, the climactic fight scene of which takes place in a storage room of mannequins (parts of which are used as melee weapons, and the hands of some of which feature prominently on the DVD cover).[4] In The Silence of the Lambs, mannequin limbs are among the objects found in the killer's storage unit. In Dean Koontz's novel Velocity, a group of mutilated mannequins is found at a suspect's house, causing the protagonist (and reader) to believe the suspect to be the shark, or at least seriously disturbed. In the television series Carnivàle, the camp site of a twisted Texas back country family is strewn with mannequin parts of all sorts. There is a scene in Dead Silence where a character falls through a theatre stage into a lake filled with mannequins.

Another instance of mannequins occurs in the psychological thriller Condemned: Criminal Origins where, in one level, the player is inside an abandoned department store strewn with mannequins. The player can pick up a mannequin arm and use it as a melee weapon also. As the player progresses through the level there are certain stages where the mannequins are actual, disguised people. They come alive and try to kill you.

Another setting found in numerous movies is abandoned nuclear test sites consisting of entire towns populated by mannequins, creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. This setting appears in such films as Kalifornia, Mulholland Falls, and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes.

Mannequins in the front of a French clothes shop, in Bordeaux

A theme which appears both in horror and science fiction is mannequins coming to life, usually with somewhat zombie-like attributes. A recent example is "Rose", the first episode of the current Doctor Who series, in which a vat of sentient alien plastic seeks to take over the world, using animated mannequins called Autons as its primary enforcers. The mannequins have gunlike weapons inside their hands, and there are many scenes of them smashing through shop windows and wreaking havoc in a London shopping mall. The Autons are also seen in the earlier Doctor Who episodes Spearhead from Space and Terror of the Autons.

Much more rare in fiction is a heroic or virtuous mannequin, although examples do exist. DC Comics' hero Brother Power the Geek is a mannequin brought to life by a lightning strike who gains super powers and befriends a group of 1960s hippies. His comic book series only lasted two issues. In the movie Mannequin and its sequel, the protagonist's love interest is a mannequin who magically comes to life.

British pop band Yazoo often uses mannequins on its covers, including the album Upstairs at Eric's, the hits compilation Only Yazoo, and the 1999 singles "Don't Go" and "Situation".

"Mannequin" is also a song performed by British black metal band Cradle of Filth. In the Marilyn Manson song "Tourniquet" from the 1996 album Antichrist Superstar the subject is a mannequin. The ska band Reel Big Fish's music video for "Where Have You Been?" from Cheer Up! features frontman Aaron Barrett's fictional ex portrayed as a mannequin. "Mannequin" is also the title of a pop song by Britney Spears off her 2008 album Circus.

Mannequins in medical education

A baby medical simulation mannequin.

Medical simulation mannequins, models or related artefacts such as SimMan[5] or Harvey[6] are widely used in medical education. These are sometimes also referred to as virtual patients.

In first aid courses mannequins may be used to demonstrate methods of giving first aid e.g. resucitation.

Mannequins for emergency services training

Fire and coastguard services use mannequins to practice life-saving procedures. The mannequins have similar weight distribution to an unconscious human. Special obese mannequins and horse mannequins have also been made for similar purposes.

See also


  1. ^ "Nuclear Test Mannequins". Seattle Times Trinity Web. Seattle Times Company. 1995. 
  2. ^ Trivedi, Bijal P. (15 July 2002). "Archaeologists Explore Cold War Nuclear Test Site". National Geographic News. 
  3. ^ "mannequin". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  4. ^ "Killer's Kiss". IMDb. 
  5. ^ "SimMan". Laerdal. 
  6. ^ "Harvey: Major Changes". Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education. 
  • Gross, Kenneth - The Dream of the Moving Statue (Penn State Press 1992, ISBN 0-271-02900-5)

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also mannequins



Mannequins n.

  1. Genitive singular form of Mannequin.
  2. Plural form of Mannequin.


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