Why Does The Unicorn Have A Horn ?

Why Does The Unicorn Have A Horn ?


According to legend, the unicorn existed and perhaps continues to populate the earth. Generally represented by a white horse with a single horn on its forehead, this mythological animal has a very special history. According to many cultures and various religions, it is attributed many meanings and many different myths have been created. Among these, the origin of unicorn horns is one of the most popular.

Even today, people still wonder why the unicorn has one horn on its forehead and not two? Or even, how did this horn appear and what is it used for? Some fans of the unicorn in the Middle Ages even went further and gave testimonials about the properties of this horn.

For those who do not know, the horn on the unicorn’s forehead is very special and you will discover it in the following. But before we get there, let’s take a little step back and talk about its very origin. As a bonus, we propose you to discover some of the most popular testimonies about the unicorn animal.

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White Unicorn Horn

Unicorn horn : origin and meaning

Mythical animals have been the subject of much research around the world. In the case of the unicorn, one of the most valuable researches concerned the origin of its horn and the question why only one.

To answer this question, it is important to know that the unicorn is morphologically similar to an ordinary horse. The only difference is its twisted horn! Although wings can be added to it to make it a “unicorn pegasus“, the primary characteristic of unicorns and the unique horn it bears.

According to ancient books, the unicorn’s horn is unique simply because it is not used as a defence. Yes, unlike a goat or other animals that have two horns on their head, a unicorn’s horn does not have the primary role of protecting the animal. Rather, it is to protect those around it.

If we are to believe the European cultures of the sixteenth, thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, which have long vaunted the specificity of unicorns for their protective and healing powers, the single horn would in fact be made of a unique substance called Alicorn.

Since Alicorn is unique, it can only be obtained from this horn. For this reason, there was a time when unicorn horns were sold to royal families and were worth much more than gold (it is estimated to be 11 times more expensive than gold). Although it was later shown that they were fake horns from the narwhal, they were still used for something.

What is or was the unicorn's horn used for ?

If the Unicorn Horn was so pampered and appreciated by ancient peoples, it is not primarily because it was unique to the unicorn. It was because of its cleansing and healing properties.

For those who do not know, note also that this horn with its twisted shape is a symbol of purity in many beliefs that have existed. According to ancient accounts, only the virgin girl could not approach it.

Although there are many virtues to this unique element of the white horse, only 03 could make the weight of criticism and have imposed themselves until today. Among them,

01 - Purification of polluted water

Purification Of Polluted Water

The purifying power of unicorn horn first appeared in the 14th century in the account of the physiologus. According to this work, there is a very large popular lake where animals came to get water. However, an evil snake was found there and poured its poisoned venom each time to kill animals trying to drink the water.

The animals were therefore forced to accumulate around the lake and wait for a unicorn to arrive. When it arrived, the unicorn would simply dip its twisted horn into the lake and the water would turn blue and free of poison.

Although this story is one of the best known, another unicorn existence belief of Father Johann Van Hesse supports it in 1389 when “the latter” states that he saw a unicorn coming out of water that it had just purified.

This is why, whether in paintings, in film representations or even in cartoons, the unicorn is usually depicted near the water is young princesses.

02 - Healing of diseases and elimination of spells

You know the bezoar stone? If not, you should know that it is one of the most renowned stones for its therapeutic properties. Like the latter, unicorn horn has been introduced into medicine and has been attributed many therapeutic properties.

In addition to purifying polluted waters, it can also cure rubella, certain fevers, measles, various pains… In the Middle Ages and in certain regions of the world today, monks use it to eliminate spells and break curses.

In powder form, it is believed to have the ability to quickly heal both physical and emotional wounds.

03 - Poison control for noble families

Unicorn horn is not only linked to the virgin girl, but its reputation extends to all royal families and nobles. Indeed, it is used in this context as an antidote to poison! For example, it was used to form cones in which wine was served. If the drink was poisoned, the unicorn horn systematically destroyed the poison.

In the Middle Ages, it was the most valuable thing a ruler or king could possess. Due to its rarity, only the most powerful had it in their possession.

Unicorn horn as a decorative work

Unicorn Horn As A Decorative Work

The last popular function of this long and twisted horn is its beauty which made it a decorative object. Indeed, many museums installed it and did not allow anyone to approach it except in exchange for a large sum of money.

It is for example the case of the museum of Cluny, the Doge’s Palace or the Saint-Denis Cathedral. Note that these are only examples, it is possible to observe it in many museums around the world. Today, it is still there and only comes out during the great ceremonies.

According to ancient accounts, Pope Clement VII had donated a unicorn horn on a golden shrine to his friend King Francis I. This on the occasion of the marriage of the niece of the latter.

What does a unicorn horn look like and how do you recognize it ?

Contrary to the image that the cinema wants to inculcate in us, the real unicorn horn is not similar to that of an ox, a goat or a rhinoceros. Indeed, it is much longer and can exceed 3 meters in length.

Another major difference is that it is twisted (it pretends to curl up on itself, or it looks like two unicorn horns curled up together).

At the time, there was no such thing as a metre, which misses an exact estimate of the size of a unicorn horn. However, according to the results of investigations that have been launched on this subject, it is known that a unicorn horn could reach several metres in height.

Finally, a little story to end with : what to remember

Finally A Little Story To End With What To Remember

Before we begin our little story about the unicorn, you should know that this legendary animal comes from Greece. Although its origin is controversial, many books mention the imagination of Ctesias (Greek writer) as the first to mention the existence of an animal with the appearance of a horse and a horn on its forehead.

According to this writer, it is still possible to find such animals on earth. This idea has been taken up by many painters who have materialized it in the form of a painting. Then, cinema acted as a catalyst to spread the image of the unicorn throughout the world.

If we go back even further, the name “unicorn” itself is only a name that has undergone many mutations. Originally, everything started with Unicorn, Alicorn, until its final transformation that we know today. It should also be noted that these are phenomena that do not happen overnight.

In fact, it took many civilizations to go through such important transformations.

In conclusion, unicorn horn is not mainly useful to the animal, but rather to the other animals around it and to humans. Today it is still possible to observe it in many museums. However, popular culture does not believe in the truthfulness of these horns! For the moment, there is no evidence to verify that they are unicorn horns, but why look for evidence?

When one is a fan of unicorns, one believes in their existence and is content with their many accessories to stay close to them. Otherwise, you don’t need to do more than that.

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