There are a lot of elements in popular mythology or fantasy that are famous, and people generally recognize them very easily. The unicorn is surely one of these creatures, just like other similar mythic beasts such as dragons and giants. These mysterious legendary animals are so intriguing and interesting, and what makes them even more thought-provoking is the whole load of myths and legends associated with them that we can find easily in different cultures and folklore.
It isn't difficult to understand how deep and interesting the fantasy and the mythical world is. Just simply choose any legend or fable, and start connecting different characters and elements in that with each other and others, soon you will find yourself in a web of relations and connections that just overwhelms the mind. As the unicorn is a mythical creature, it holds the potential to start a long discussion, and even after hours of deep discussion, we will find ourselves nowhere, such is the magic of the mysteriousness associated with the unicorn.
The unicorn is there in the popular culture and traditional literature of numerous countries and popular groups, and it has been strongly influencing the mythological and cultural world for thousands of years. So what exactly is a unicorn? This mysterious creature is surely good food for thought. The mind surely starts working as an engine when it starts thinking about anything supernatural or mythical, and the case is no different when it comes to the unicorn.
A unicorn is a mythical animal that looks like a horse. We can safely say that the unicorn looks almost identical to a regular horse, the only difference being that the unicorn has a unique horn on his forehead. This horn on the unicorn's forehead is spiral and long, and its length is stated differently in different cultures and stories. It should be clearly stated that a unicorn is totally different from the Pegasus.
The Pegasus is a Greek horse god that is very popular in Greek culture. The Pegasus has a set of wings that help him fly, but he has no horn. The Pegasus is the name of a specific creature (the mythical horse), on the other hand, a unicorn is not a specific name of a person, and it is more of a general term that is used for all horse-like looking creatures that have a single spiral horn on their forehead.
You will find numerous mentions and citations of unicorns in medieval European and Greek literature and art. The presence and status of unicorns in European culture is very amusing, and the unicorn is portrayed in a very interesting way. A lot of facts and myths are associated with unicorns according to the medieval European outlook that might sound unique and strange to a general person.
For example, A unicorn is considered as a white, horse-like or goat-like creature who has a straight horn on the forehead, spiralling grooves, a beard that resembles a goat's beard, and cloven hooves. The horse part and the horn reference sound quite common and well-known, however, the connection of unicorns and goats in the medieval European point of view is a little uncommon, and it generally sounds strange when people hear it for the first time.
However, this perception of unicorns was pretty common at that time, and it was represented in the forms of literature and visual art forms like paintings and statues. Thanks to this high popularity of unicorns, every little kid will start telling you about a beautiful white horse with a horn that has magical powers and unique strengths if you ask him/her that what is a unicorn.
The earliest description of the unicorn might not be very easy to comprehend accurately, but the modern version of this mythical horse with a white body and spiral horn is pretty widely agreed upon. A lot of myths about this magical horse also mentions tiny flying creatures called fairies.
Unicorns and Rainbows - What is a Unicorn?
As the unicorn is a popular part of different cultures and popular folklore, it is very common to see mentions and citations of unicorns from time to time in our daily life. It's easy to understand that different cultures and mythologies contain various mysterious creatures and elements that excite and attract people. Fantasy experts and artists in various fields then take benefit of this strong attraction potential, and they create different forms of entertainment inspired by unicorns.
You will commonly find that writers and novelists often write about unicorns and other popular mythical creatures when they write books on connected genres like fantasy and mythology. A lot of this happened in the middle ages and the renaissance era, and you will find tons of artwork and literature from those times that either include mentions of unicorns or are totally based on them. And as the literature and other art forms of those eras are very influential and widely revered, we today find ourselves between cultures and popular folklore legends and myths that are connected with unicorns.
It is also very common to see unicorns being associated with rainbows. It looks very beautiful and warming to see these two beautiful elements together, which is often recognized as the symbols of happiness and purity. The pair of unicorns and the rainbow is actually very common if you think of it, and it is not just some mere coincidence, and there is a great story behind this.
If you ask this question to an average person, then it is very probable that you get a reply that says that both of them are very cute, so they are usually portrayed together. However, the actual reason behind this can be found in the Bible, Christian culture, and related folklore. The popular myth says that once the whole earth was being destroyed by floods, and the dense rains washed away all human dirt with it into the sea and made the earth clean, along with the humans went all the animals as well.
A unicorn was also getting washed away in the floods, but it clung onto a piece of olive wood at The Cape of Good Hope and thus survived from getting destroyed. So, like this, all dirt and sin were washed off the earth, and only the unicorn remained on the planet.
God saw this, that the earth was getting clean and pure, and only the unicorn remained. Thus, God took the waters and placed them in the sky and formed a beautiful rainbow in respect of the marvellous and magical unicorn.
This is the real story behind the connection between unicorns and rainbows - Almost as exciting as the mermaid folklore stories!
Are unicorns real? Do unicorn pictures Exist?
As unicorns are so popular and common in fantasy creations and different entertainment forms, they keep on attracting our attention, and that leads us to the question, regardless of how common and well-known unicorns are known to us, are these beautiful mythical creatures even real? Many people believe that even though there are no concrete and scientific proofs that confirm the existence of unicorns, they are authentic and exist in reality. A strong point that such believers raise is that unicorns are mentioned in different cultures all around the world.
They are there in the African culture, Indian culture, in different cultures in the middle-east, and several European cultures as well. All of these cultures are not directly related to each other, and from what is written about unicorns in them came up independently, and no visible link or story can be comprehended that can link the presence of unicorns in cultures all around the globe. So, how is it possible that almost the same exact story and myth about a white horse-like creature with one horn on the forehead is common in all the cultures which are totally different from each other?
This comes as a piece of bad news to those who strongly belittle mystic things and deny everything supernatural. Different unicorns sightings have also been there in history, which has further strengthened the belief of many who consider unicorns to be real. It can't be said with complete confidence that are these sightings real or not, as they are highly disputed and questioned. Many people have also rendered them to be fake and lies.
Another myth that is popular concerning the origin of unicorns is about the Siberian unicorn. It is believed that this Siberian unicorn, a large animal with a huge horn on his forehead, used to live in the Eurasia grasslands. This Siberian unicorn could have been the originator of all the myths connected with unicorns today. If you might see a picture of a Siberian Unicorn, you will think that it strongly resembles a rhino.
Still, the people who believe unicorns to be true have faithfully defended their beliefs, and they don't really care much whether there is any scientific evidence related to unicorns' existence or not.
As no major breakthrough has been there in the recent past, it looks like that the situation is going to stay the same for a long time. Most people think unicorns are in the same category as folklore stories about wizards... Fantasy.
Stories about unicorn magic - Horn shalt thou exalt
The mysterious unicorns are very interesting creatures, and according to different cultures and popular folklore. They are rare and possess some magical powers that make them very special and mysterious. The long and spiral single horn of the unicorn is perhaps its most intriguing and exciting part. In many cultures, it is believed that the single horn of a real unicorn contains more power than the forces of many gods combined.
Myths say that the powdered horn of a unicorn is magical, and it works as an antidote to poison. However, even in myths and legends, a unicorn is rare and difficult to catch, unlike other animals. So, the horns of real unicorns are extremely valuable. In real life, it was believed some centuries ago that unicorns are indeed real, and fake unicorn horns were being sold in the market as horns of real unicorns.
Different sources reveal that at the peak of its rarity, unicorn horn was valued at the price of 10 times more than the price of gold for its weight. Some German merchants sold a unicorn horn to the Pope in 1560 for a price of 18,000 Pounds in that time. It is also believed that the unicorn horn can purify water, and it can cure a poisoned being in just seconds. All these rumours did make the unicorn horn a very magical and powerful thing, but it came as bad news for real animals in jungles.
In natural history, there are various animals that have single horns in their foreheads, which makes them look a little like unicorns, like the rhinoceros and the narwhals. People started hunting these animals to get the horn from their heads, which is just inhuman. To get only one horn, hunters killed these animals in big numbers. The rhinoceros is a pretty common animal, and there isn't much need to talk about it in detail.
The rhino went through a rough patch in history, but people later understood that rhino horns are of no magical power, and the animal got some relief. However, the situation was not this good for the Narwhals. Narwhals are a species of whale that has a long tusk growing not from his head but from a canine. Hunters didn't care about a mere animal's life when they got a circular horn that could fetch some money.
There are several images and videos where it is seen that some tusks were taken out from alive Narwhals, which is just pathetic. Scientists cleared that these tusks are of no use and that there is no sense in killing a real animal for just spreading and complementing fake rumours. However, few listened to the scientists.
People often mistakes the unicorns with centaurs from greek mythology.
A horse-like creature with one horn and blue eyes
We get a lot of information on unicorns from different cultures and folklore. As the unicorn is one of the most common mythical creatures that has been mentioned in several independent cultures, there is a lot of information available on this magic animal. A certain difference between a unicorn and a horse is talked about many times in some cultures. It says that the hooves of horses are single-toed, whereas the hooves of the unicorn are usually depicted cloven, which is generally seen in deer, goats, and cattle. It is another way in which a real animal like a deer or wild ox gets connected with the unicorn. In most cases, the connections that exist between unicorns and animals that exist in real life has resulted in bad news, and they get hunted for the horns.
The healing qualities of the unicorn are also very popular and well-known to different people and cultures. It is believed that the tears of unicorns are powerful and magical, and they have mythical healing powers, which could save a person from dying. The blood of a unicorn is also considered extremely pure and pious, as the unicorn itself is a symbol of purity, piousness, and truth. Followers of different cultures agree in consensus that the blood of a unicorn is mighty, and just like unicorns' tears, it can also heal people. Unicorns' blood is considered more powerful and better than unicorns' tears when it comes to healing abilities, and this makes unicorn blood way more valuable than unicorn tears.
Sadly, this myth, too, turned out bad for the rhino and the narwhals. Rhino hunting became more and more common in many parts of the world in old times. Not much wasn't done about it, as people got motivated for mythological and spiritual-inspired reasons, which can drive people crazy. The unicorn is also a very evasive and rare creature according to different myths and legends, and it is difficult to catch him. If you read the literature of different unicorn-inspired cultures, then you will find that unicorns are portrayed as the signs of speed, power, ferociousness, purity, piousness, and most importantly, freedom.
It means that a hunter cannot just hunt or trap a unicorn in the way it usually does other regular animals. There are stories where many hunters make various strategies to hide and search for unicorns, and they try to catch them with all sorts of things. However, as the unicorn depicts the true sense of freedom, you can't simply catch a unicorn and take his freedom. Hunters set up different snares and traps to catch them, but the unicorns used to fool these hunters by avoiding such areas.
The folktales say that the unicorn is a very smart animal, and he skips and deactivates these traps. However, scriptures say that as a unicorn is a symbol of purity, it loves virgin maidens. In some stories, hunters used to place young maidens in areas where unicorns were sighted, and when unicorns used to come near them, the hunters attacked them.
Books and fantasy
Stories about these wild mythical creatures
As unicorns are the most popular mythical creatures in numerous cultures, civilizations, and ethnic groups, they are often mentioned and cited in various publications and texts. You will get a long list of books and scriptures that are inspired by unicorns or based on unicorns. Stories and legends on such mythical creatures and supernatural elements get quite famous as they contain in themselves a sense of excitement and mystery, which our mind finds very interesting and intriguing.
The best piece of writing that contains numerous mentions and citations of unicorns is the Holy Bible. You won't find any mention of unicorns in the modern translations. The King James' version of the Bible contains many references to unicorns, and it was initially published in 1611. Following are some famous mentions of unicorns in the Bible:
Along with being a mysterious mythological creature, the unicorn is also one of the most loved and liked elements of the mythological world. Small kids love unicorns, and they like everything about unicorns. So, there are many books on unicorns for young readers. Some of the popular unicorn-inspired books for small children are Unicorns 101, Unicorns are Real, I'm a Unicorn, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, and many others as well.
Unicorn books and entertainment is almost as popular as stories about dragons.
Popular entertainment about the magical horses
Entertainment creators always look for interesting themes and characters to base their products on. For example, if we talk about movies and video games, then it is a little resource-demanding and challenging to design products related to new characters, as it takes a lot of effort to create a new character from scratch and to get the surety that it is going to be a beneficial project. Entertainment creators and production houses go with characters from well-established vultures and mindsets, as no efforts are needed to market the demand of a product, and the magical beasts, unicorns, fit in perfectly to this need. So, we get numerous different popular entertainment titles like cartoons, games, movies, TV series, and others that are connected with unicorns.
As little children are usually most amazed by unicorns, many of the most popular movies on unicorns are made for young audiences and kids. Some popular children movies on unicorns are Princess Lillifee And The Little Unicorn, Wish Upon A Unicorn, Mia And Me, The Last Unicorn, and Niko the Unicorn.
Cinematic titles about unicorns are, however, not limited to kid movies only, and there are many movies targeted at teenagers and adults that include unicorn references too. For Example, Unicorn Store is available on Netflix, and it is strongly influenced by unicorns. Even its title includes the word "unicorn" as well. Legend is a popular movie starring Tom Cruise, where he sets on an adventure to protect a unicorn from the hands of an evil man who is after that unicorn's horn. The movie Stardust is also highly influenced by unicorns, and you will clearly see in this movie how closely unicorns and humans bond with each other. If you are into unicorns, then we strongly suggest you watch these unicorn-themed titles, they will further enhance your unicorn knowledge, and you will fall in love with these beautiful creatures.
Entertainment focused on the unicorn
Just like other entertainment content creators, video game development houses are also very much into unicorns, and they take inspiration from this magical horse to develop their gaming titles. When the craze of gaming was combined with the love people have for unicorns, a new genre of gaming came into existence that we today know as "fantasy". If we look closely into the fantasy world, then you will realize that the main plot of fantasy games is usually focused on a couple of mythological elements, and different are connected to each other in these games that it creates a unique universe of interconnected mythical relations that amuses players.
The unicorn is such a popular fantasy character that several kinds of games can be developed on it, and there are several games on the internet that let you experience the unicorn's magic. The most common fantasy games about unicorns are probably the fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs). There are games where you enter a mythical world, and you interact with other several supernatural elements.
Here are some fantastic gaming titles that are based around unicorns:
Unicorns in Entertainment. Have the creatures ever existed?
Unicorn is a very beautiful and loveable piece of the mythological universe. There are indeed many different characters in the fantasy universe, but unicorns hold a reserved seat there, and nothing can take their place. Unicorns have been influencing various forms of entertainment for centuries, and the earliest mentions of unicorns are several thousand years old. Even after amusing us for such a long time period, they still never fail to stir up our imagination and leave us wondering whenever we think about them. Different cultures and popular groups have believed in unicorns from the very starting, and today as well, there are several communities and cultural groups in Africa, Europe, and America who believe that unicorns are real, and they do shower blessings.
The respect and love people give to unicorns is just awe-aspiring. A very clear indication of this can be seen in Scotland, the Scottish culture is highly inspired and influenced by the unicorn, and they still believe unicorns as the symbols of piousness and purity. That is why the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. Other European cultures have also been highly influenced by unicorns for a very long time.
The first depiction of a creature resembling the unicorn is as old as 15,000 BCE, in the Lascaux Caves, which are located in modern ay France. However, the earliest written record of these magical horses is considered the Western literature of the Greek historian Ctesias, which he wrote in 400 BCE. He described the unicorn as a beast with a white body and purple head. It had a multicoloured horn with a pair of beautiful blue eyes.
In history, there have been many mentions of unicorns. About some of these mentions, we have clear and credible information, whereas some are just myths about which we can't say anything with total confidence and are not considered true by many. One such mention is found in the Eastern culture, where sources depict that Ghengis Khan was thinking about attacking the Indian subcontinent, but he stopped his attack campaign when he saw a unicorn. The unicorn bowed down to the great Mongol invader, and he considered it as a sign from his dead father, and he eventually turned his army back. There are not credible and accurate sources that can testify to this story, but many believe it to be true.
Marco Polo also used to think that unicorns existed. In his travels, he saw unicorns, and he told people that they are very ugly in real life, and they eat the normal food that other animals eat. Some texts say that he also commented on their nature. However, actually, the animals he saw were rhinos, and he mistook them for unicorns. It is another example that shows how much people of that time believed in unicorns. As soon as they saw a four-legged animal with a horn on the forehead, they believed it was a unicorn.
Sightings of unicorns are also prevalent, and often people claim that they have seen unicorns. Antal Festetics, an Austrian naturalist, claimed that he had seen a unicorn in real. He said that he saw the unicorn while he was riding his horse in the Harz Mountains. However, there is no proof of this encounter. In 2010 as well, a science centre in Toronto shared a video in which a unicorn can be seen. Some say that this video is fake, but some believe that it is true.
So, even though the unicorn is a massively popular fantasy creature, there are not many scientifically proven proofs that can testify its existence. There are people who dismiss every theory in their favour, and there are also people who don't need any proof for believing in their existence. So, which side are you on? Do you believe in unicorns? Do they exist?
Warm Unicorn Wishes
Shazzy Davies, author of the article.