Unicorn: the symbol and its meaning. Unicorn in heraldry
The unicorn is one of the very fewmythological creatures that are considered useful in almost all traditions. In the modern sense it is simply a mysterious beautiful horse with one horn. The traditional unicorn is a symbol that is represented somewhat differently: with a goat beard, a lion's tail and forked hoofs.
The history of the unicorn as a symbol
Unicorns occupy a place of honor in the Greekmythology, Chinese traditions, in the art of the Indus Valley and India. Greek writers, including Pliny the Elder and Aristotle, mention them in their writings. At least eight references to the unicorn are contained in the Old Testament of the Bible.
In the art of the Middle Ages, the unicorn is a symbol withreligious significance. According to legend, a beautiful girl in the image of the Virgin Mary managed to catch this wondrous beast and tame it in such a way that the animal trustingly put her head on her lap.
Here the unicorn is a symbol of the reinterpretation, the embodiment of Christ, and his death was regarded as the Passion of Christ. The pagan image of a horse with one horn became highly appreciated by the church.
The magic of unicorns
The unicorn is a symbol of magic. His magical powers are also legendary. Its horn is harder than the most durable diamond, it is capable of neutralizing poisons. And the tears of a unicorn can heal both physical wounds and heart sorrows. Some of them can fly and talk with all kinds of other living things. The magic unicorn is a symbol of freedom, healing and beauty. Powerful magic wands had in their hearts a unicorn hair, and his blood could heal a person who is at death.
What does the unicorn mean as a symbol?
Legendary white horse or pony with one horn is a symbol of purity and innocence in European mythology. Only a virgin could catch and tame him. What is the meaning of the symbol?
- Protection. The unicorn is the protector and patron of all the virgins. His horn has the magic power of healing and was a popular ingredient in medieval medicine. It was a powerful antidote and protection against evil.
- Virtue. The white unicorn is a symbol of dignity, chastity and purity.
- Love and harmony. Unicorns are associated with the light of the moon, love, harmony and understanding. In medieval Europe, this tender creature stood in opposition to the lion, which embodied a more violent solar influence.
- Another meaning of the symbol is associated with courage, strength, and sometimes with cruelty.
Unicorns in heraldry
The unicorn is also a prominent and significant figure in heraldic symbolism and seem to usually spiral horn red, black or any other color.
The unicorn in heraldry of the 15th century is profiled fromthe tail of a lion and the hooves of a goat, symbolizing the removal of the bondage of slavery. This was provoked by the sacred status of the unicorn in medieval times. Becoming more refined, he was associated with the attributes of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.
These lonely beings personified the modelmonastic life. The connection with the Holy Spirit has made them a symbol of mysticism and spiritual values. In Scotland, two unicorns are depicted on the royal arms, the British coat of arms displays a unicorn with a lion.
Belief in Unicorns
Of all the mythical and legendary creatures, fromscaly dragon to the cunning sphinx, the unicorn has always been the most beautiful and the most beloved. At the same time fierce and proud, he was noble and kind. While many magical beings portended danger, the unicorn usually brought good luck. For many centuries, Europeans believed in its existence, as if it were a real animal that lived in a foreign country, for example, in India, Persia or Abyssinia. There was an opinion that this was not a magical creature, but simply a model of foreign zoology. At present, there is hardly anyone who believes in their real existence.
Description of unicorns
Once there was found a fragment of the description of an unknown beast made by Fotia, the patriarch of Constantinople (around 810-893 AD). He's writing:
"In India there are wild donkeys, as large ashorses, or even more. Their body is white, their head is dark red, their eyes are bluish, and they have a horn in the forehead to the elbow length. The lower part of the horn, about two palms apart from the forehead, is completely white, the middle part is black, the upper part is fiery red. Those who drink from a cup made from it are resistant to convulsions, epilepsy and even poison, provided that before or after taking the poison they drank wine, water or other liquid from these cups. Their ankles are very beautiful. These animals are very strong and fast, no horse, no other animal can overtake them. "
According to legend, the unicorn is a symbol for women. It was believed that only a chaste young virgin with pure thoughts could catch him. Often on ancient canvases and in manuscripts one could see images of these noble animals along with beautiful young maidens.
Unicorn in Canada?
Mostly any mention of unicornsare connected with China, India and Africa, as well as with gullible medieval Europe, which was characterized by belief in fairies, goblins and dragons. What do Canada and the unicorn have in common? Which country's symbol looks like a horse with one horn on its forehead? It is now located on the arms of England and Scotland, and this is also related to their legends.
As for North America, hereIndeed, in the time of dinosaurs lived disproportionate horned creatures, able to pierce their horn several other large animals. They include the suborder Ceratopsia (centrosaurs). These creatures outwardly resembled giant rhinoceroses, which were incredibly impulsive and cruel and belonged to the Cretaceous period. As is known, more than sixty-three million years separate the last dinosaurs from the primitive man. Nevertheless, the earliest fossil finds have greatly helped in fueling the idea that such great fairy-tale creatures as dragons and unicorns once roamed the earth.
In nature there are only two animals thathave one horn, rhinoceros and narwhal. The tusk of the latter can reach 3 meters. It was really a mythical sea horse with a horn. Abundant in the Arctic seas, including the northern waters of Canada, Narwhal is present in a number of Canadian arms. Animals, including bulls, deer, lions, griffins, unicorns - strong, fast and often ferocious, are common practice in heraldry.
Unicorn as a national animal
Strangely enough, but the official animalScotland is a unicorn. A fantastic character may seem like a wrong choice for the national animal of the country, but this does not concern the state glorifying its love for the long history of myths and legends. Since the 12th century, the unicorn was a Scottish heraldic symbol that was present on the early form of the Scottish coat of arms of William I.
Unicorns were worshiped by the ancient Babylonians, theirwritten descriptions were found in the texts of ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks and ancient Jewish scholars. In Celtic mythology, the unicorn of Scotland symbolized innocence and purity, healing power, joy and even life itself, and was also seen as a symbol of masculinity and power. During the reign of King James III (1460-1488) were introduced gold coins with the image of a mythical creature with one horn.
People at all times have been fascinated by every kindmonsters and mythical creatures. This fairy-tale character is still incredibly popular and popular today. The image of the unicorn is found in films, literature, children's fairy tales, comics. In souvenir shops you can buy a variety of figurines, jewelry, trinkets of all types and sizes.