Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Noble Griffin

Let’s continue our Wednesday “Mythological Monster Day” tradition, now in its second week. LOL

The Griffin (or griffon or gryphon) was a symbol of pride, elegance, and majesty for centuries. It’s described as a creature with the head of an eagle and body of a lion. In most versions the griffin also had the wings of an eagle. The front claws varied over the centuries with early versions shows as having lion paws and later variations with eagle talons. Ironically, by the around the 12th century, images of griffins once again showed the front claws as that of a lion. Because the lion is considered the lord of the land and the eagle the lord of the sky, the griffin was a very important symbol of power.

It’s hard to tell exactly where the legend of this creature comes from as most records are lost to time and spoken about in such detail over a millennial span. The earliest knows depictions of the griffin date back to the 15th century BC. Statues of griffins adorn important architectural structures and were used to guard treasure. In Europe, through the Renaissance period, nobleman used the griffin on their coats-of-arms and heraldry.

According to legend, a griffin's claw was believed to have medicinal properties and its feathers could restore sight to the blind. Claws fashioned into goblets (which were typically made from antelope horns) and griffin eggs (usually ostrich eggs) were considered highly prized in the medieval courts of Europe.

The symbolism of the griffin can also be found in Christianity. The medieval Catholic Church saw the griffin as representative of Jesus. Born of earth (lion) and divinity (eagle), griffin images are found on many of the cathedrals still standing today.

This odd combination of fierce beast and noble creature has sparked the imagination for thousands of years. Let it inspire you to create fantastic worlds.

1 comment:

  1. I did a little research myself on the griffin. Maybe I should have waited to start my novel until you did some some of it for me as griffins play a part, especially in the opening chapters.

    Good reading.


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