FACT CHECK: Viral Claim Linking Pinocchio To Slavery Is Unfounded
A post shared on Facebook over 19,000 times alleges the character Geppetto from the story “Pinocchio” was a slave master who made puppets out of the hair and skin of slaves.
There is no evidence that the story of Pinocchio has any ties to slavery. An expert in European fairy tales debunked the viral claim.
The Facebook post appears to show a vintage photo of a man with a dark-skinned puppet on his shoulder. “I was today years old when i learned….Geppeto was actually a slave master and he made his puppets from slave skin and hair,” reads the post. “Pinocchio was an actually posssed (sic) doll made from slave skin and hair and he was actually seen walking around without geppeti (sic) and no one knows where the puppet is located today.”
There is no evidence to suggest this claim is correct. Geppetto, the creator of Pinocchio in the classic fairy tale, is described as a poor woodworker who carved Pinocchio out of “a piece of enchanted wood,” according to Britannica. Though the original story of Pinocchio, written in 1883 by Italian Carlo Collodi, involves more mature elements than were depicted in Disney’s 1940 musical adaption of the story, according to The Guardian, there is no evidence to suggest the original story involved slavery.
Check Your Fact found no credible news reports about any alleged connection between the fairy tale and slavery. A 2011 NBC News article titled, “Pinocchio’s Real Roots Mapped” makes no mention of slavery. There is likewise no mention of slavey in a translated version of the 1883 book “The Adventures of Pinocchio.” (RELATED: Is Walt Disney’s Frozen Body Set To Be Thawed In 2021?)
“I have never heard such a thing,” said Cristina Mazzoni, a professor at the University of Vermont with expertise in European fairy tales, in an email to Check Your Fact. “While it is true that in the original Italian book Geppetto made his puppet with the intention of exploiting him in street performances, Pinocchio was made entirely out of a single piece of wood. What an odd claim.”