The unicorn, like the dragon, is perhaps the most popular and best-known mythical animal, especially in the western hemisphere of the world. The main reason for this popularity is that medieval Christians accepted the concept of the unicorn and changed its symbolic meaning according to their religion. For them, it became a symbol of their god Christ, although the unicorn originally had nothing to do with him. The dragon in Christianity began to symbolize the devil.
The passion for the unicorn continues to this day. For example, the cartoon “The Last Unicorn“, based on Peter Beagle’s book, is still popular 🦄
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The unicorn is a mythological animal
In Think-Unicorn, you will easily find Unicorn Figurines and pictures representing a unicorn. Many books are written about these creatures. The unicorn with other fairy-tale animals is a character in some role-playing games.
The unicorn is one of the few fairy-tale and mythological animals that people consider realistic. In other words, we can easily imagine meeting this legendary creature. Some people are so eager to see it and keep it as a pet that they resort to the old method of light surgery, with which they literally transform two-horned goats and cattle into homogenous creatures.
But such unicorns cannot be considered real, although the powers of unicorns seem to exist. Some ancient nomadic tribes of Central Asia believed so much in unicorns and their magical influence and power that they wore leather bandages decorated with artificial horns on the horses’ heads. Skulls of horses wearing such bandages have been found in burial sites in Siberia. On some of the earliest European horse armour, there is also a horn on the helmet at the forehead.
Refer to ancient history in mythology
To find a description of the real unicorn, it is necessary to refer to ancient history, literary works and mythology. After reading them, we will find that the description and size of unicorns also differ according to the culture and country in which they appeared, as well as the other animals differ from one continent to another. Many historians claim that ancient peoples did not see the difference between a unicorn resembling a gazelle and a rhinoceros or an antelope depicted in ancient drawings. They completely ignore the fact that ancient peoples had separate names for antelope, rhinoceros and unicorn.
The word “unicorn” literally means “unicorn”, it comes from the Latin words unus, “one”, and cornu, “horn”. Thus, the unicorn is a unique creature with only one horn in the center of the forehead. An animal that has broken a horn is not a unicorn, nor is a rhinoceros that has a horn at the end of its long nose. A creature that has been surgically transplanted into the centre of the forehead by both horns also cannot be considered a unicorn. A unicorn is a creature that belongs to a particular genus and has only one horn, a creature that man could never tame, keep at home or raise.
The unicorn is represented in several cultures
This creature has been represented and seen in regions such as China, Mongolia, the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa, India, Japan, Europe, Florida, border regions with Canada and many other places around the world. However, their habitat was limited to the northern hemisphere.
Pliny writes that the unicorn lived in India and that Herodotus believed its habitat was Libya. The Ethiopians claimed that the creature lived in the Upper Nile, where it was often seen. The Tibetans wrote about the existence of the unicorn in their region; the creature was also well known to the Arabs.
In Greek and Roman art, the goddess Artemis/Diana was often depicted sitting in a chariot harnessed to eight unicorns. Such a link between these animals and the Moon goddesses was traced in art as early as the time of the Sumerian-Semitic civilizations.
The European unicorn
The European analogue of the unicorn was thought to have the head and body of a horse, the hind legs of an antelope or deer, a goat’s beard, a lion’s tail and a long spiral horn in the centre of the forehead. According to some authors, the horn was not spiral but straight. Lodovico di Vartema, Albert the Great (Magnus) and Strabon agree that the unicorn’s hooves were bifurcated like those of a goat, although some medieval illustrations show that its front legs were bifurcated, while its hind legs were solid. Medieval writers gave a detailed description of the unicorn, which is later reflected in the image of the unicorn on heraldic symbols.
Many writers have argued about the colour of European Unicorns. Most argued that they had the appearance of a pure white horse with a majestic horn, while others, taking one of the descriptions from India as true, believed that the unicorn had a white body, a red head, and blue eyes.
The European unicorn inhabited the forests of temperate latitudes and was so fast that no hunter could catch it. It usually lived alone, and males and females only joined together to mate. The young, unicorn was born hornless and stayed with its mother until the horn reached its full length. Despite the fact that the unicorn is generally a gentle and gentle creature, it uses its pointed horn to protect its territory without hesitation.
European literature in the myth of the unicorn
European authors have not reached a consensus on the colour of the horn. Until the 16th century, it was claimed that the real horn was completely black. Later, they began to think it was white or ivory. Thomas Fuller suggested that the difference in colour could be explained by the age of the animal: the horn of young individuals was white when they reached the age of at least one hundred years, their horn was ivory and the black horn was that of older unicorns. Other naturalists of the time wrote that the real unicorn horn on the inside was white, and on the outside – black and structurally – it looked like bark.
Despite the fact that some writers mention straight horns with unicorns in their works, the horns depicted in the bas-reliefs of ancient Persepolis are curved. This has also been confirmed by the Arab writer al-Qazvin.
Critics often dispute the fact that ancient images of unicorns are nothing more than images of animals with two horns in one profile so that only one horn is visible. However, Robert Brown discovered that ancient peoples depicted two-horned animals in such a way that their eyes were turned to the right and the unicorn was always drawn to the left. In heraldry, this position is known as “looking back”.
In European literature, there are many stories about hunting unicorns for horns, which were famous for their ability to identify poisons and could be used as an antidote. The Horn Of A Unicorn (Sometimes Called Alikorn) also purified water; when the horn was immersed in a dirty pond or puddle, the water was clean. Anyone who drank unicorn horn was healthy for life, and also avoided the fate of being poisoned. It was these properties of the Alikorn that made the former rulers pay huge sums of money for it. Until the 18th century, unicorn horn was an important product in pharmacies.
The unicorn in the past
The two unicorn horns are still preserved in the Church of St. Mark in Venice, and are today very sparse due to constant dispersion. Another horn is kept in the dark crypt of the French cathedral of St Denis. It is believed that its power is so great that the water in which the horn was previously lowered, can cure any disease. The horn of the unicorn was recorded in the treasure register of King Charles I of England. Another such horn was once stored at Windsor Castle, where it could be seen by all who arrived at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Its value at that time was one hundred thousand pounds.
Because unicorn horns cost huge amounts of money, fakes often appeared on the market. One way to distinguish real horns from fakes was to draw a circle on the ground around the horn and place it in the middle of a scorpion, spider or lizard. If the unicorn’s horn is real, its power will not allow them to escape.
Unicorns with impressive manes have been the subject of much history in mythology, the Middle Ages and modern times. These powers are magical and can cure many diseases. Would you like to meet a real unicorn too? Think-Unicorn invites you to plunge into the fairy world. Fill up on glitter and rainbow colours by discovering our multiple collections of Unicorn Toys, slippers, clothes, decorations and jewellery!
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