For my series of illustrations I am going to use mythical animals with roots in allegory and metaphor and redesigning them with a focus on their animal elements. I had initially planned on using classical mythical creatures such as centaurs and griffins as a basis for my design. Many of these classical creatures have their roots in ancient Greece or even earlier.
Feedback from my presentation suggested that I look into more unknown or local myths for inspiration. Bringing a lesser known creature to the forefront could be more interesting than something that has been redesigned for thousands of years. After some research I realised that classical Greek and Roman myths are often share similar roots to folklore, to the point where it becomes hard to separate them. There are several types of creatures that I am considering:
Frequently seen in classical Greek and Roman myth as symbols of male sexual prowess and fertility, for example the Centaur (man-horse) and the Satyr (man-goat). Later Celtic societies, being dependent on the horse for survival considered it a link to the Gods – capable of understanding and delivering divine secrets.
In ancient Greek society white horses were sacrificed into the sea at sunset as an offering to the sun god. Sinse then there has been a continuous connection between horse and water, through to the Kelpies and Each Uisge (water horses) of recent Scottish folklore.
- from the Greek for “horse” and “monster”
- typically depicted with the front half of a horse and scaly, fish-like hindquarters
- A gold statue was found from the Kingdom of Lydia, dating back to the 6th Century BC.
- A constant presence in mythology, through Greek and Roman, Celtic, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern societies
- a horse like creature similar to the hippocamp, seen in Celtic folklore
- head, neck , mane and legs of a normal horse , webbed feet, and a long, two-lobed, whale-like tail.
- Also called a water horse, through some Kelpies are specific to streams and fords.
- Many highland lochs have some kind of water horse story linked to them, including Lochs Ness, Morar and Lomond
- Possibly a way to warn children away from dangerous bodies of water
- from Púca, the Irish word from Hobgoblin
- takes on a variety of shapes and sizes to wreak havoc, notably a pony, calf, bat or bird
- when in horse form it rushes between a victim’s legs, and hoists them away across the countryside
- from the Greek “ikhthis” (fish) and “centaurus”
- depicted with the upper body of a man, the lower front of a horse, the tail of a fish and crustacean claw horns
- a pair feature in Greek mythology: Bythos (Sea-Depths) and Aphros (Sea-Foam)
- possible origin in the divine fish of Syrian mythology, later set as the constellation Pisces
Mythical human-fish hybrids, featured an mythology worldwide. The first known record of mermaid was in stories from Assyria in c. 1000 BC. Mermaid mythology possibly originated in attempts to depict shamans in the process of transforming into fish, later adopted by Greeks and Romans as representations of water gods. Later sighting of seals and manatees were attributed to mermaids
Physical desciption varies by region, at time appearing human with the ability to breathe underwater (arabia and persia), as pale spirits that move like floating weeds (eastern europe), a fish-like creature (japan), and with the ability to weep pearls (china).
- female inhabitants of ‘Tir fo Thoinn’ – the Land beneath the Waves
- From the irish “muir” meaning sea and “oigh” meaning maid
- In Kerry, Cork and Wexford, they wear a small red cap made from feathers, which they abandon to come ashore
- Similar to Marrows, found in Scottish, Irish and Icelandic folklore
- From Old English “seolh” (seal)
- Appearing like normal women, they wear seal skins to allow them to live as seals and breathe underwater and shed them to live on land
- Hinding a Selkies skin with prevent it from returning to its seal form
- European spirit of fresh water
- usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down
- sometimes shown with wings, two tails, or both