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Unicorn

Aka : Re’em, Ki-lin, Kirin

Description

The unicorn is a mythical creature. Strong, wild, and fierce, it was impossible to tame by man. Plinie, the Roman naturalist records it as "a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a single black horn, two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its forehead."

 

Origin

The unicorn is an archetypal monster, present both in eastern and western mythology. In the Bible, God is said to have the strength of a unicorn. [Num 23:22 & 24:8]; The warlike fierceness of the unicorn is referred to when Ephraim and Manasseh are described as being like the horns of unicorns. [Deu 33:17]; The terrifying destruction of Idumea is completed when God sends unicorns and wild bulls to attack the people. [Isa 34:8 see also Psa. 92:10 & Psa 22:21]

Modern zoologists have generally disbelieved the existence of the unicorn. Yet there are animals bearing on their heads a bony protuberance more or less like a horn, which may have given rise to the story. The rhinoceros horn, as it is called, is such a protuberance, though it does not exceed a few inches in height, and is far from agreeing with the descriptions of the horn of the unicorn. The nearest approach to a horn in the middle of the forehead is exhibited in the bony protuberance on the forehead of the giraffe; but this also is short and blunt, and is not the only horn of the animal, but a third horn, standing in front of the two others.

Other believes that the narwhales, along with the Indian Rhinoceros (which only has one ‘horn’) are creatures that, through travelers’ exaggerations, became the fabled unicorn. The narwhale is a whale that has a single tusk protruding from its forehead. One can admire two carved narwhal horn in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and in the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM); the two are thought to be a pair. The horn is 110 cm long with a diameter of 5.2 cm tapering to 2.5 cm.

The Oryx, a desert antilope, is also a potential candidate.

 

Powers

It was traditionally believed that a virgin who was naked sitting beneath a tree could only catch the delicate unicorn. The unicorn, who craves purity, would be irresistably drawn to the girl and lie down with his head in her lap. While it slept, the hunter could capture it. If, however, the girl was merely pretending to be a virgin, the unicorn would tear her apart.

Throughout the stories of the unicorn, its horn, the alicorn, is said to have great medicinal powers. In Ctesias’ writings, the dust filed from the horn was supposed to protect against deadly diseases if mixed into a potion. Or, if you drank from the horn, you would be protected against any poison.

Often, a narwhale tusk was sold as an alicorn, and it was often ground up and used for its magical properties.

 

Symbol

Its white coloring made it a natural symbol for purity, chastity and virginity. The horn of the unicorn was the weapon of the faithful and of Christ.

The mythological unicorn was a symbol of chivalry with qualities befitting this status, proud and untamable.

The legend of the hunter and virgin bait became an allegory of the Incarnation of the Christ and was later forbidden by the Council of Trent because of the lack of real unicorns in the present world.

 

Today

As far as modern fantasy literature for children is concerned, another mention of unicorns is in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone". The "bad guy" uses it to prolong his life by a drinking a very little amount of the unicorn’s silver blood.   

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