The unicorn is one of a very few mythological creatures that are considered to be beneficial in almost all traditions. The unicorn is universally beautiful, mysterious and difficult to capture or tame. Although modern unicorns are depicted simply as horses with a single horn, traditional unicorns also possessed a billy goat’s beard, a lion’s tail and cloven hooves.
Unicorns have a place in Greek mythology, Chinese traditions, in the art of the Indus Valley and India. Greek writers including Pliny the Elder and Aristotle mention the unicorn in their writings.
The unicorn became a religious symbol in the art of the Middle Ages. The original tale was that a beautiful maiden representing the Virgin Mary managed to trap a unicorn, whereupon the unicorn became tame and lay its head in her lap. As the legend grew through reinterpretation, the unicorn was viewed as the Christ or Incarnation and the death of a unicorn as the Passion of Christ. This allowed a pagan symbol to become highly esteemed within the church. In fact, a grouping or herd of unicorns is called a “blessing” of unicorns.Unicorns are also prominent in heraldic symbolism, usually with a spiral horn, sometimes of red and black. In heraldry, unicorns are often shown with a collar and a broken chain, indicating that they have freed themselves from bondage and cannot be taken again.
Measures 2" x 2"
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