Mata Hari, Exotic Dancer Who Was Later Executed As A Spy, 1906

June 27, 2021

In this picture, colorized by Klimbim, Mata Hari performs her exotic dance routine she was known for. As a journalist in Vienna wrote, she was "so feline, extremely feminine, majestically tragic, the thousand curves and movements of her body trembling in a thousand rhythms. 

Colorizer: (Klimbim).

Mata Hari (Mata Margaretha Geertruida Zelle) was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, and although scholars have concluded that both of her parents were Dutch. Her father, who owned a hat shop, was wealthy enough to send Hari to exclusive schools until she was 13. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt in 1889, and her parents divorced in 1889.

A Life Created By Tragedy

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Her mother died in 1891 and her father remarried in 1893; was then sent to live with her godfather, Mr. Visser in Sneek. She began to study to be a kindergarten teacher, but Visser removed her from the school after the headmaster started to flirt with her. She then fled to her uncle’s home in The Hague a few months later.

When she was 18, Hari married Captain Rudolf MacLeod on July 11, 1895. MacLeod, a Dutch Colonial Army Captain, had placed an ad in a Dutch newspaper, looking for a wife. The marriage benefited her financially, as she became part of the upper class. The couple moved to Malang on the east side of Java in 1897. Her husband, an alcoholic who regularly beat Hari, kept a concubine and Hari left him for a time, moving in with another Dutch officer; during that time, she learned as much as she could about Indonesian culture. She also joined a local dance company. At this point, she wrote to her relatives in the Netherlands, revealing her artistic name, Mata Hari, which translates into “sun” in the local Malay language.