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Was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mother Azeri?

A few years ago Leonardo Da Vinci researchers presented a theory claiming that the Renaissance artist’s mother, Caterina, had not actually been a local peasant as had previously been believed.

According to documents discovered in 2002 in Da Vinci’s home town of Vinci in Tuscany, she had been brought to Italy as a Middle Eastern slave. Many Da Vinci experts, however, remained unconvinced.

But now the plot has thickened once again.

A relatively unknown Canadian scholar, Louis Buff Parry, who describes himself as an "artist, scientist, inventor, international scholar, and diplomat," has put forward a new theory suggesting that Da Vinci’s mother was Muslim and hailed from ... Azerbaijan.

According to Perry, Caterina was the most common name given to slaves from the region of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) and Da Vinci himself travelled to Turkey and Azerbaijan to discover his Caucasian roots. His findings were reported by a number of news agencies, mostly Azerbaijani and Turkish.

Perry presented his theory at Library and Archives Canada during a lecture last month entitled “The Eastern Mysteries of Leonardo Da Vinci and His Mother, Caterina.” The event was jointly organized by the embassies of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

-- Anna Zamejc

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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