A mannequin (also called a manikin, dummy, lay figure or dress form) is an often articulated doll used by artists, tailors, dressmakers, windowdressers and others especially to display or fit clothing. 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 tracheal intubation and for human figures used in computer simulation to model the behavior of the human body. During the 1950s, mannequins were used in nuclear tests to help show the effects of nuclear weapons on humans.12
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 manneken, meaning “little man, figurine”.
Shop mannequins are derived from dress forms used by fashion houses for dress making. The use of mannequins originated in the 15th century, when miniature “milliners’ mannequins” were used to demonstrate fashions for customers.4 Full-scale, wickerwork mannequins came into use in the mid-18th century.4 Wirework mannequins were manufactured in Paris from 1835.
The first fashion mannequins, made of papier-mâché, were made in France in the mid-19th century.4 Mannequins were later made of wax to produce a more lifelike appearance. In the 1920s, wax was supplanted by a more durable composite made with plaster.5
Modern day mannequins are made of a variety of materials, most commonly fibre glass or moulded plastic. Mannequins are used extensively to display clothing in shop windows and store interiors.
Historically, artists have often used articulated mannequins as an aid in drawing draped figures. The advantage of this is that clothing or drapery arranged on a mannequin may be kept immobile for far longer than would be possible by using a living model.
In first aid courses mannequins may be used to demonstrate methods of giving first aid.
Mannequins were a frequent motif in the works many early 20th-century artists, notably the Metaphysical painters Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Savinio, and Carlo Carrà.910 Shop windows displaying mannequins were a frequent photographic subject for Eugene Atget.5
Mannequins are a common theme in horror fiction. Many people find mannequins disturbing (due in part perhaps to the uncanny valley effect), especially when not fully assembled. Abandoned nuclear test sites consisting of entire towns populated by mannequins appear in such films as Kalifornia, Mulholland Falls, and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
The cast of the satirical Japanese television series “The Fuccons/Oh! Mikey” consists entirely of inanimate mannequins with voices dubbed in.
Two mannequins can be seen on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Both were hairdresser’s wax dummies. Read more