Some Mythical Beasts – by cecilia wang

Mermaids

Mermaids and sirens are practically indistinguishable by appearance, although some versions claim that sirens are giant, over-sized sea birds with a beautiful woman’s head and sings to lure sailors to their watery grave while mermaids are beautiful women with a fish’s tail instead of legs. There are versions that say mermaids are vain creatures that enjoys looking at themselves will exchange wishes for a comb and a mirror. Others that argue mermaids sing to lure a sailor to his death. In this version, it is said that if you receive a mermaid’s kiss before she pulls you under and drowns you, you will not die but will live with her in the underwater world happily ever after. But this happens more often than not. In Pirates of the Caribbean, it is said that a mermaid’s tear is needed to gain life from the fountain of youth. The more gruesome versions include man eating fish creature that disguise themselves as drowning women to lure in their prey. And last but not least, from the Disney movie, ‘the little mermaid’, mermaids are friendly, caring creatures like us except with fish tails.

Phoenix

The phoenix is a bird that is said to be the size of an eagle (give or take), with red and gold coloured feathers. Many versions say that a phoenix lives for up to 500 years or more. The most well known thing about Phoenixes is that when they are nearing the end of their time, they will gather incense and herbs to build a pyre, then burst into flames and be reborn in its own ashes. The tale of the phoenix is taken as an allegory of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who had the power to take then bring back his life. The Aberdeen Bestiary adds this, ‘The phoenix can also signify the resurrection of the righteous who, gathering the aromatic plants of virtue, prepare for the renewal of their former energy after death.’

Vampires

Vampires, for those of you who don’t already know, are blood sucking, corpses that rise from the dead and feed on the blood of the living around them. People back then used to believe that under certain circumstances, you could become a vampire after you die. Some of these circumstances were:

  •   Was born with teeth or a tail
  •   Had an irregular death
  •   Had an improper burial
  •   Were the 7th child of the same gender
  •   Lived and evil life e.g. was a witch

These circumstances aren’t really reasons, they’re just so unusual that people think it’s abnormal and because the people during those times were super superstitious, they believed that anything out of the ordinary was evil.

These vampire stories actually started up during the time of the plague. Because so many were dying, there would often be mass graves and even the private tombs were often reopened as to put in more corpses. Because they didn’t understand the procedure of decomposition, they thought the corpses were coming back to life. The body shrivels up so it will look as if the corpse’s teeth, hair and nails are growing. Gases in the body builds up making the body plump and ‘well-fed’ looking, and also, the pressure from these gases will make some of the blood leak from the corpse’s nose and mouth. The people who saw these corpses thought that these were signs of life, not decomposition and the blood on their face is not their own, but their victims’.

People believed that by staking a ‘vampire’
through the chest will kill them, as it releases the gasses that are trapped in the body. when the corpse is staked, it might make a noise sort of like a groan because of the gases vibrating past the vocal chords. This just proves to the
people that the corpses were ‘alive’.

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One Comment on “Some Mythical Beasts – by cecilia wang”

  1. swoonie says:

    Sensational work here, Cecelia. I would really like you to put some pictures to complement your wonderful research. Also do include photos of your diorama (just in case you missed my first comment).