U –UNICORN, UNDINE
A unicorn is a creature of legend, which resembles a white horse with a spiraling horn coming from its forehead. Originating in Greece, it is popularly connected to the Renaissance period where it was thought to be a wild creature that lived in the woods, symbolizing purity and grace, and only able to be captured by a virgin. The horn was typically thought to heal the sick and make poisoned water drinkable.
The belief in unicorns was real, and they are therefore not found in Greek mythology. They were believed to have lived in India. One report from an Alexandian merchant in the 6th century who had traveled to India, described a set of brass unicorn figures that were in the palace of the King of Ethiopia. He also stated that the animals’ power derived from its horn.
One allegory shows a unicorn trapped by a maiden that represented the Virgin Mary, standing for the Incarnation. When the unicorn saw her, it put its head in her lap and fell asleep. This could be found in religious art. Some religious writers saw the unicorns’ death as the Passion of Christ. While the myths spoke of a creature with one horn that was only tamed by a virgin, they were translated into an allegory for the relationship between Christ and the Virgin Mary.
The narwhal is a whale with a large tusk that extends from its upper left jaw. It is resident to the Arctic. Ancient Norwegians thought the unicorn horn stemmed from the narwhal’s tusk.
In order to trap a unicorn, a virgin could be used. There were many tapestry hangings with this theme.
Unicorns became popular in heraldry from the 15th century where they were depicted with goat’s cloven hooves and beards, lion’s tails, and the usual horn. It is commonly known from the royal coats of arms of Scotland and the United Kingdom.
The Undine, also known as the Undina or Ondine, is a mythological water nymph. Classified as an elemental, they are also seen in European folklore as a creature like a fairy. They are able to gain a soul by marry a human and giving birth to his child.
Found in forest pools and waterfalls, with beautiful voices, they are common in romantic and tragic literature.
The above information and photos were found at Wikipedia.