Urban legends are more of a local tradition, but one of Pakistan’s urban legends has gone international. Mumtaz Begum is now featured on Atlas Obscura, an international travel website.
For more than 40 years this Barnum-inspired half-fox, half-woman has been telling fortunes from her cage in a Pakistani zoo. https://t.co/lIsWp5eDx0
— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) February 18, 2021
The story was also featured in Unravel Malta. The international community clearly does not see this as a source of amusement.
This is horrifying.
— Ben Vernia (@BenVernia) February 18, 2021
Well, that isn't creepy at all…. https://t.co/lsyNoCq1eG
— Wayne Humfleet #DESERTSTORMVETERAN (He/Him) (@Lumrunner) February 18, 2021
While the world just discovered the elusive Mumtaz Begum, Pakistanis seem to have outgrown the absurd Zoo attraction as well.
Yes, there were some bad jokes thrown around over the years and even now.
Half human, half fox, should put picture of Maryam Nawaz on post.
— Sana Bajwa (@sanafaiz96) February 21, 2021
New Mumtaz Begum of #Karachi Zoo.
— Jimmy (@A_Rizvi110) November 16, 2014
Karachi Zoo mein mumtaz begum be like: https://t.co/3PBhWuSWna
— NaMehram (@zuhaib_sheikh) May 2, 2020
The famous Mumtaz Begum of Karachi Zoo : pic.twitter.com/sk5KjVt9te
— Syed Talha Ahmed (@Letalhaaa) March 3, 2017
Yet some people still take pride in the gimmick.
Dunya bhar ke chirya ghar aur jungalon mey dekh aao, Mumtaz begum Karachi zoo k ilaawa aur kaheen nahi milay gi. #ProudKarachiite
— Umer (@ArayUmer) July 20, 2014
— Oweiz Khan (@Oweiz_khan) February 21, 2021
About Mumtaz Begum
The legend of Mumtaz Begum began when a woman with the body of a fox was made object of amusement for the public. She would tell fortunes.
Over the years, this gimmick has been created at various traveling zoos, circuses, and even fairs.
One such performer who essays Mumtaz, is Murad Ali. The man behind the attraction at the Karachi Zoo is particularly famed for his advice and the ability to see the future.
Murad Ali took up the role after his father passed away. He has now been essaying this role for over 40 years in her specially designed pavilion, Mumtaz Mahal.
Atlas Obscura thinks, Mumtaz Begum is a ‘kitsune’ a Japanese shape-shifting fox. However, this half-woman half-fox is a creation of its own. In the subcontinent’s folklore, the fox is deemed clever and devious, not a spiritual vessel.