Mythical animals

Where do mythical animals come from? Do they have a connection with real animals or are they created purely from imagination? I guess some of the creatures come from word of mouth. One person describes a lion for instance with a ‘proud chest’ and it ends up through word of mouth and illustration as actually having beasts! Maybe because this is meant to be a lioness or perhaps it is seen as a mixture of lion and human.

You only have to look at egyptian hieroglyphs to see strange combinations of animals and humans. There are interesting creatures in the histories of all countries around the world. Dragons are known from West to East. They are wise and benevolent in the east, but seen as evil and sly in the West. They vary in shape and size, from snake like creatures in some Asian countries to having two legs and two wings, or four legs and two or four wings. Dragons or Great snakes are also found in Australia and the Americas.

There are too many mythological beasts to describe here but some are very strange. And looking at medieval illustrations gives you an idea of what was in people’s minds at the time. You only have to look at the tryptich ‘the garden of earthly delights’ by Hyronymous Bosch which depicts some weird and hellish creatures. The imagination is a wonderful thing.

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