Wednesday, 8 December 2010

ABC Wednesday - U is for Unicorn

Although I know the Unicorn is a mythical beast, part of me still longs to believe that such a creature exists. Naturally, my Unicorn is a beautiful sleek white horse with flowing mane and tail and a spiral horn. It is proud and free and not to be captured.
Unicorns are mentioned in the King James version of the Bible but it seems that the animal referred to was probably an aurochs which, when seen in profile appears to have a single horn.

The royal Danish throne was reputed to be made of unicorn horns though it is now fairly certain that the horns came from narwhal. Drinking vessels were also made from the horns of unicorns because it was believed that they would neutralise poison.

Unicorns appear in heraldry across Europe. 
The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom depicts a lion and a unicorn. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, edited by Iona and Peter Opie, the old nursery rhyme, ‘The lion and the unicorn’, reflects the legendary antagonism between these two creatures ‘in many countries through many ages’ and ‘is mentioned in the earliest English natural history books.’ Traditionally it is believed to refer to the amalgamation of the Royal Arms of Scotland with those of England when James VI of Scotland was crowned James I of England in 1603, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I.  It was alluded to by Lewis Carroll in ‘Through the Looking Glass’.

Previously, the Arms of Scotland portrayed two unicorns but after the union one unicorn was replaced by a lion.

The unicorn has the form of a horse but with cloven hooves, a lion’s tail and a goat’s beard. It wears a crown around its neck attached to a broken golden chain, indicating that it was once restrained but broke free and will not be captured again. The Scottish version of the Arms shows the positions of the lion and the unicorn reversed.



The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town.

Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
And drummed them out of town.


Thanks go to the Unique team of Denise Nesbitt and her Universally Urbane Unit of United hosts. Click here to see more Us. 

16 comments:

  1. I love unicorns, too! What a great post and pics for the U Day! Loved reading the history, fascinating! Hope your week is going well, Janice! Enjoy and stay warm!

    Sylvia

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  2. Very interesting ! I wished I could see at least once a unicorn ! so far nothing, not even in a deep wood. Maybe I should first kiss a frog.

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  3. Unicorn country always intrigues me. Great post, jablog, and thanks for all the info.

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  4. Oh, unicorns do exsist.

    They passed down all the roads long ago and the red bull ran close behind them and covered their footprints

    The Last Unicorn.

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  5. Super post, Janice. Lots of information about the coats of arms, which I always find interesting.
    Thanks!
    -- K

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  6. I thought we lost the unicorns in the great flood!

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  7. I absolutely loved 'The Last Unicorn', which was written by Peter Beagle, if I recall correctly! Loved it. I particularly loved the reference to the unicorns being run into the sea by the minotaur to become the white horses of the sea. I won't spoil the book for anyone by enlarging on that. ;)

    Interesting about the coat of arms, too. I knew part of that, but not all.
    On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week. :)

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  8. I like to believe that they really did exist at one point in time. As did dragons.

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  9. A rich history for the unicorn! Great U!

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  10. What a great post for U. I never knew or thought much about unicorns. I had no idea they were so historic and interesting.

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  11. My daughter used to collect them and I always bought her one for Xmas and birthdays. I miss that search for the perfect one each year.
    The Last Unicorn was a lovely movie.
    Love your post - full of great info!

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  12. I never heard of lions and unicorns being at odds. Interesting poem and history. I love unicorns.

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  13. Cute!!1 Thanks for Sharing about the true identity of the unicorns :-)

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  14. How great, we both picked the Unicorn for the U post! Yours, however, is a much more fascinating read! Well done!

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  15. This is such an interesting post. I loved learning about the history of the coat of arms.

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  16. Fascinating post, great one for U.

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