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Answered 2018-04-10 10:07:06

It was called a figurehead, and was not always a woman. It could be a man, or a representation of Neptune or other mythological figure, or a horse, lion or dragon, ie something that suited the name of the ship. For example, HMS Centurion might have the figure of a Roman soldier.
The figurehead is the carved wooden statue, usually of a woman, sometimes a mermaid, often bare-breasted.
The Figurehead - A carved figure perched on the front or bow of sailing vessels that helped establish a ship's identity.
The general term is 'figure-head'. The names of particular figure-heads depends on the name of the ship.

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