We gleefully spotted this magical unicorn and Scotland’s national animal away from her preferred resting spots of waterfalls, lakes, forest glades and hills at the ‘Enchanted Museum’ hosted by the Chilterns Open Air Museum. This evening event comes highly recommended for any fan of storytelling through the ages!
I couldn’t answer the question put to me about why unicorns are so special, so here’s some of their magic qualities recorded around the world:
In China unicorns were associated with holiness and purity. There was a common belief that they could see evil in human hearts and with a single thrust of their horn would kill the wicked.
In Japan the unicorn is known as a Kirin. They were able to walk on water and their delicate hooves wouldn’t even trample a blade of grass, admirably, they were said to eat no living creature.
In Babylon it was believed that the unicorn was the moon who was chased by a lion, the sun across the skies.
In Israel it was believed that Noah was able to tie this pre-flood monster to the side of his ark, which worked well until Og a demon took the opportunity to mount the unicorn’s back and escape the flood too.
In Greece – Ctesias, Indica (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 72) (trans. Freese) (Greek historian C4th B.C.) :
“In India there are wild asses [the Monokerata, Unicorns] as large as horses, or even larger. Their body is white, their head dark red, their eyes bluish, and they have a horn in their forehead about a cubit in length. The lower part of the horn, for about two palms distance from the forehead, is quite white, the middle is black, the upper part, which terminates in a point, is a very flaming red.
“Those who drink out of cups made from a unicorn horn are protected against convulsions, epilepsy, and even poison, provided that before or after having taken it they drink some wine or water or other liquid out of these cups. The domestic and wild asses of other countries and all other solid-hoofed animals have neither huckle-bones nor gall-bladder, whereas the Indian asses have both. Their huckle-bone is the most beautiful that I have seen, like that of the ox in size and appearance; it is as heavy as lead and of the colour of cinnabar all through. These animals are very strong and swift; neither the horse nor any other animal can overtake them. At first they run slowly, but the longer they run their pace increases wonderfully, and becomes faster and faster. There is only one way of catching them. When they take their young to feed, if they are surrounded by a large number of horsemen, being unwilling to abandon their foals, they show fight, butt with their horns, kick, bite, and kill many men and horses. They are at last taken, after they have been pierced with arrows and spears; for it is impossible to capture them alive. Their flesh is too bitter to eat, and they are only hunted for the sake of the horns and huckle-bones.”
Have a look at this Unicorns though the ages article tracing how unicorns have been depicted in art over the centuries