Saturday, April 12, 2014


Mermaids 1
Mermaids are legendary aquatic creatures with the upper body of a female and the tail of a fish. Mermaids are associated with perilous events like floods, shipwrecks, storms and drowning and in other folk traditions they can be bestowing boons or falling in love with humans. Mermaids, the mythical creatures, have long captivated the imagination of the people and have also thrilled us in documentaries paintings, fairytales as well as in the cinemas.

These seafaring fish ladies come to the aid of men and according to some belief would hug them and drown them to death while out at sea. The earliest mermaid legend comes from Syria and in ancient Syrian was a goddess by the name of Atargatis. She was a fertility goddess whose cult spread to Rome and Greece and was associated with water. She is often depicted in mermaid form and could be perhaps the original mermaid. According to legend, she plunged into a lake to become a fish but only her bottom half was transformed.

Mermaids – Fish like People

In old English, `mer’, means `sea’ and `maid’ meant woman and mermaids are considered to be women of the sea. Following the line of etymological logic a `mer’ man – merman would be a man of the sea. Mermaids and mermen are fish like people who swim through the seas and the oceans. In some of the legends of the Pacific Islands it is believed that the humans descended from both mermaids as well as mermen and seems way back in time that their tails somehow dropped and people were able to walk on land.

An example is taken from the creator god Vatea who was depicted as being half human and half fish. Female mermaids and male mermen are imaginary being with the upper bodies of human beings and the lower bodies of fish. Mentioned often in European legends they occur occasionally in the folklore of sea travelers from various regions of the world. Though they are portrayed as being attractive, they are also associated to danger and their dual nature reflects humankind’s relationship with the sea, which could either be realm of fear and disaster or beautiful and calm.

Mermaids, Part of Folklore

As humans learned slowly how to survive at sea, mermaids became a part of the folklore and legends and there were no more gods only spirits of the sea which brought both good and bad events to sailors when they encountered them. Some were of the belief that they could transform themselves to human state. Irish folklore to this day protect this lore and some famous Persian books like the Arabian Nights speak on multiple occasions of the human race of sea dwellers, minus the fishtails, which could live both in water as well as on land.

Though we see the mermaids as part of popular culture and folklore remnants of ancient times, the mythology around the mermaids has influenced some to the earlier civilizations and changed the way of looking at the mysteries and danger hidden in the unexplored sea. Due to their enticing looks of half humans and half fish, mermaids managed to remain the part of our history as the most famous mythical creatures which lived in the water.

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