Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unicorn - A Magical White Stallion

Unicorn

Their place in the human imagination is similar to that of dragons, griffins and sea-serpents. The present-day unicorn is portrayed as a magical, white stallion with a long, spiraled alicorn that protrudes from its forehead. Drawings of horses with a single straight horn first appear on the cave walls of Lascaux, France. Later, Aristotle retold stories about the horned wild ass of India, chronicled as a large white horse with a red head, blue eyes and a long black horn.

Some believe this mystifying lost species was hunted to extinction during prehistoric times but without a fossil record most scientist suspect the unicorn never existed. During the middle ages scholars were convinced the unicorn was a legitimate, real-life animal. It was thought to be a white beast the size of a donkey with a deer's head, the body of a horse, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat and cloven hooves.

The one reliable account we do have comes from the famous world explorer, Marco Polo. He wrote about the unicorn that he'd been shown and described it like this:

"Scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and feet like an elephant's. They have a single black horn in the middle of the forehead. they have a head like a wild boar's. They spend their time wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at."

Today, historians and naturalists agree. The identity of the mysterious creature described so matter-of-factly by Marco Polo was most definitely an Indian rhinoceros.

12 comments:

  1. There are also goats whose horns fuse, who were used either playfully or diabolically as stand-ins for unicorns. Not as handy when you want a miracle, but fun to pet.

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

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    1. I've heard of those one-horned goats, maybe that's one of animals that inspired the legend. 2000 years ago before the enlightenment and google and wikipedia, people thought unicorns were a species of animal that lived in far off places. By the middle ages it was thought their horn or alicorn was magical and would grant it's owner special powers or miracles.

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    2. Dan, there is nowhere for me to comment on your post so I am cheating a bit and responding in your space. I loved this story of the unicorn. I have always believed in it even as a metaphoric animal. I looked for the unicorn on Kilimanjaro some years ago as I thought it may be there ...
      Susan Scott's Soul Stuff

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    3. I've always enjoyed the lore behind such legendary creatures. Last fall we spent a Saturday in the Lost Creek Wilderness searching for Bigfoot.

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  2. I did not know that the Lascaux caves had pictures of unicorns. A surprising U post!

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    1. There are some drawings on the cave walls that look like unicorns but they may be antlered deer seen from a side on perspective.

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  3. Thanks so much for dropping by my bloggie! I was going to mention the Stanley in my post about Timberline but I thought adding a 3rd hotel, after Ahwahnee was also mentioned, would confuse everyone. lol And I loved me some unicorns when I was a kid and through high school/college.

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    1. You're welcome, it would be fun to visit the Timberline and Mt Hood. Unicorns seem to have fascinated lots of people.

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  4. I didn't know there were paintings of unicorns on the Lascaux caves either! Fascinating. Hadn't heard of one horned goats either. :)

    Rinelle Grey

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    1. There seems to have been some anomalies in nature in the past that may have inspired the legend of the unicorn.

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  5. Now that I used your space above, all of a sudden there is an 'add comment space' - the unicorn is up to tricks ...

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    1. The magical unicorn works in mysterious ways.

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