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Thread: Fanciful Creatures

  1. #21
    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Couldn't find a picture of one but, apparently, men who listen to women are pretty fanciful (if not mythical).

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Readers of Irish literature will be acquainted with M'asal Beag Dubh (My Little Black Ass) Tales by Padraic O'Conaire.



    So as not to give offence, I'll specify that in Ireland, an ass is a creature, while an arse is the hindpart of one.

    I love the stories and was struck by a photo of a favourite writer, Brendan Behan, a jackeen from the North Dublin slums, in Connemara with a wee ass and baskets of turf, seemingly fresh off the bog. If you know anything about Behan's attitude towards the dear ould west, you'll get the joke: only look at the face on the man. . .



    In that vein, here's a picture of two brothers we met in the abandoned village on Great Blasket Island, off the Dingle, Kerry:



    I christened them: The Wise Ass and The Smart Ass.
    Last edited by Chip; December 22nd, 2021 at 04:46 PM.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Couldn't find a picture of one but, apparently, men who listen to women are pretty fanciful (if not mythical).
    Odysseus, tied to the mast, listening to the Sirens.


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  5. #24
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Having lived in or near wolf country for most of my adult life, and watched them in the wild, I'm fascinated by the species. Which accounts for my collection of wolf stuff from many sources. My primitive ancestors in what is now Europe were not only well-acquainted with wolves, but likely understood them in a way few of us do today.





    Here's a cave drawing from the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, dated 6000 BP.

    Last edited by Chip; December 23rd, 2021 at 12:51 PM.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Rock art depicting wolves is rare, compared to that showing prey species, human hunters. etc. Here's one from Mongolia showing a wolf pouncing on a caribou.



    Perhaps recognising the family structure of the wolf pack, there are quite a few stories of chldren being nursed or reared by wolves, such as this bronze of Romulus and Remus, legendary twins who founded the city of Rome.



    Medieval depictions of wolves often portrayed them as demonic figures, bent on destroying humans and their settlements.



    Here is a fairly accurate image of a wolf, on a renaissance tile.



    Among many legends about St. Francis of Assisi is one in which he seeks out the wolf that's terrorised the village of Gubbio and makes peace with him, calling him Brother.


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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Norse myths tell of a giant wolf, Fenrir, a demigod, so huge he could swallow the moon, causing an eclipse. He was a patron deity to the Viking raiders, who carried effigies such as this one found in Dublin, dated 9th-11th century.



    Here's a modern carving of Fenrir, in the style of a Viking figurehead.


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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures


  10. #28
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    One of our friends, an experienced outdoorsman and wildlife researcher, is convinced that Bigfoot exists.

    https://wyofile.com/john-mionczynski/

    I've spent lots of time in the wild, and have never seen any evidence.

  11. #29
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    A break from wolves and Bigfoot to celebrate Lá an Dreolín, the Wren's Day, an ancient Irish feast that coincides with St. Stephen's Day and also Boxing Day, when servants and tradespeople were given boxes of gifts, often cast-offs or unwanted Christmas presents.



    In Irish tradition, the tiny wren is the King of Birds, and also a sacrifice to begin the new year.



    In the Gaeltacht, Lá an Dreolín is a full-blown holiday, with parades and a dram or two taken.



    Much ado about a wee bird, and a grand day to yez!

    Last edited by Chip; December 26th, 2021 at 01:03 PM.

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  13. #30
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    In a recent NYer essay, Calvin Trillin mentioned one of his favorite news ledes, from an article that appeared in The Advocate of Baton Rouge on September 23, 2019. If the function of a lede is to engage the reader, this one seems remarkably effective. Here it is:

    A veterinarian prescribed antibiotics Monday for a camel that lives behind an Iberville Parish truck stop after a Florida woman told law officers she bit the 600 pound animal’s genitalia after it sat on her when she and her husband entered its enclosure to retrieve their deaf dog.


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  15. #31
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    The idea of being brought up by wolves or partnering with them seems to be deeply embedded in our lore. Recent (as opposed to ancient) versions include Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (as rendered by Disney).



    Some humans have wolvish features, such as fangs, ears, and tails.






    Other versions show humans keeping company with wolves or even riding them.






    One well-known version is The Princess Mononoke, the anime by Hayao Miyazaki.

    Last edited by Chip; December 30th, 2021 at 03:39 PM.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    More wolf stuff.

    There are many tales of warriors disguising themselves with the pelts of wolves to sneak up on enemies.



    The use of wolf pelts as headgear, capes, etc. to imply savagery and stealth was also pretty common.



    The opposite sort of disguise, the wolf in sheep's clothing, is more a figure of speech than a possibility.



    Even so, the characterizing of wolves in human dress and roles seems to strike a chord.





    Here's looking at you, kid. . .

  17. #33
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Australian researchers baffled as endangered purple-crowned fairy wrens breed outside season – again

    Romancing in the dry season for a second year upends much of what the experts thought they knew about the bird


    Royce Kurmelovs
    Wed 5 Jan 2022

    Researchers studying the purple-crowned fairy wren in far northern Western Australia have discovered the birds romancing outside the normal breeding season for the second year running.

    The development is highly unusual in the 16-year program at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, which closely monitors the birds and was identified in a three-week survey carried out during the dry season in October and November.

    Ordinarily breeding takes place during the wet season between December to April when insects are plentiful. It is indicated by “brood patches” – bare patches on the belly – of female birds and bent tail feathers caused when they nest their eggs in cramped nests.

    But Dr Niki Teunissen, a postdoctoral research fellow at Monash University who conducted the recent dry-season survey, said that when she caught female birds they showed all the telltale signs of a “busy season”.

    “Some of those females already had fledglings, so they’d already successfully bred,” Teunissen said. “Then I caught them and found that they had brood patches, which means they already had a nest again. So it’s a busy season.

    “We don’t really understand why it’s happening but we would love to find out.”


    https://www.theguardian.com/australi...e_iOSApp_Other

  18. #34
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Time for lions. Unless one lives in Africa or works in a zoo or a circus, lions claim a larger share of our imagination than what's owed to experience.

    The earliest depiction of lions are found in caves and rock shelters. A famous example is the cave of Chauvet in southern France where a large panel shows several lions and bears in profile. The renderings are accurate, obviously based on observation. At the time, c.33,000 BP, there were large, predatory cats in France.



    The artists of Egypt were familiar with lions and there are many examples in the archaeological record.



    This one appears to be wearing a harness, perhaps owing to a status as a royal pet. Mummified lions have been unearthed from royal tombs. Some sculptures are beautifully abstracted, such as this Old Kingdom example in granite.



    Perhaps the best-known leonine persona is the Sphinx, a woman's head on the body of a lion. Located among the Great Pyramids of Giza, the monument is said to be a guardian or an oracle.



    Smaller renderings, some with the features of royalty (i.e. the headdress and decorated beard), are frequent in tombs.


  19. #35
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    The Greek sphinx had a lion's body and a woman's head, along with a pair of wings.



    The creature was sought as an oracle and gatekeeper, often asking riddles (and sometimes devouring those who failed to solve them). The best-known appearance of the sphinx is in the play Oedipus Rex (429 BC) by Sophocles.



    Lions are found in Greek art, such as this undersize example being slain by a hunter. Despite the size, the anatomy is fairly accurate. The Greeks were keen observers of natural detail.



    Here, from about the same era, is another relatively accurate depiction, from a series made of glazed tiles that flank a famous gate at the Temple of Ishtar, Babylon.


  20. #36
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    During the so-called dark ages and early medieval times, the European imagination was untethered to mere facts, let alone observation. Artists drew images from myth and memory, yielding some fantastical beasts.

    Here's a bronze from Moorish Spain, perhaps used as a waterspout, that evokes the lion's mighty roar.



    Here's a rather jolly medieval lion I saw at the Chicago Institute of Art, neglecting to note the provenance.



    In imagination, a lion might fight with a dragon.



    This mated pair with cubs is a bit nearer reality, but the artist didn't know that female lions lack a mane.



    Lions were often given semi-human features, like this old grump.



    Or this cross-eyed beast.


  21. #37
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    This fiddling lion, part of a beastly ensemble, is a favorite.



    The lion, so-called king of beasts, was adopted as a symbol of royalty (Richard the Lionhearted) and featured in heraldic art.





    The English coat-of-arms featured three lions.



    And the later arms of Great Britain are flanked by a lion and a unicorn (although early versions show a lion and a dragon).


  22. #38
    Senior Member eachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    The Crest of Scotland features two unicorns so that may be where it comes from in the arms of Great Britain. The dragon is Welsh.

  23. #39
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Doesn't the unicorn stand for Scotland? The blazon above has the three lions for England, a single lion for Scotland, and what looks like a harp, for Ireland.

    Not sure what happened to the dragon. Didn't St. George kill it?



    Or p'raps it survived to reproduce and found a brewery.

    Last edited by Chip; February 2nd, 2022 at 10:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Fanciful Creatures

    Yes, St. George, Dragon killer and Patron Saint of England.

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