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For centuries, people have puzzled over the identity of the mysterious Mona Lisa. Now an Italian art historian has put forth another theory on who she may be, and it's pretty crazy. The smirking woman in Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting may actually be a portrait of the artist's mother, says Angelo Paratico... and now for the most shocking part. Apparently, da Vinci's mother may actually have been a slave from China.

However, Paratico isn't 100 percent positive on the details of his theory. "I'm sure to a point that Leonardo's mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use deductive method," he told South China Morning Post. Before you jump to any conclusions, consider some of the facts.

Da Vinci's mother is said to have been a peasant named "Caterina." Paratico, who has written a book on the topic, points out that da Vinci's merchant father knew of a slave named "Caterina," as quoted from ArtNet News:

“One wealthy client of Leonardo's father had a slave called Caterina," Paratico told SCMP. “After 1452, Leonardo's date of birth, she disappeared from the documents. She was no longer working there."

That slave apparently left Florence for the town of Vinci, where she gave birth to a child. Paratico speculates that Caterina stopped working in da Vinci's household "due to her improper relationship with her master." 

Does that sound like a stretch to you? Many are doubtful since there is no concrete evidence to Paratico's theory. At the same time, however, it still makes for an interesting story. Perhaps time will tell.

[via ArtNet News]