Hybrid (mythology)


Hybrid (mythology)
Assyrian Shedu from the entrance to the throne room of the palace of Sargon II at Dur-Sharrukin (late 8th century BC), excavated by Paul-Émile Botta, 1843–1844, now at the Department of Oriental antiquities, Richelieu wing of the Louvre.
Urmahlullu relief from a bathroom in the palace of Assurbanipal in Ninevah
Zeus darting his lightning at Typhon, shown as a hybrid with a human torso, bird's wings and a reptilian lower body (Chalcidian black-figured hydria, ca. 550 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen Inv. 596)

Hybrids are mythological creatures combining body parts of more than one real species. They can be classified as partly human hybrids (such as mermaids or centaurs), and non-human hybrids combining two or more animal species (such as the griffin). Hybrids are often zoomorphic deities in origin who acquire an anthropomorphic aspect over time.

Partly human hybrids appear in petroglyphs or cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic, in shamanistic or totemistic contexts. Ethnologist Ivar Lissner theorized that cave paintings of beings combining human and animal features were not physical representations of mythical hybrids, but were instead attempts to depict shamans in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts or "power animals".[1] Religious historian Mircea Eliade has observed that beliefs regarding animal identity and transformation into animals are widespread.[2] The iconography of the Vinca culture of Neolithic Europe in particular is noted for its frequent depiction of an owl-beaked "bird goddess".[3]

Examples of theriocephaly in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon include jackal-headed Anubis, cobra-headed Amunet, lion-headed Sekhmet (see also Sphinx), falcon-headed Horus etc. Most of these deities also have a purely zoomorphic and a purely anthropomorphic aspect, both of which the hybrid representation seeks to capture at once. The hybrid iconography then develops as an attempt to represent both aspects. Similarly, the Gaulish Artio sculpture found in Berne shows a juxtaposition of a bear and a woman figure, interpreted as representations of the theriomorphic and the anthropomorphic aspect of the same goddess.

Non-human hybrids also appear in Ancient Egyptian iconography, as in Ammit (combining the crocodile, the lion and the hippopotamus). Mythological hybrids become very popular in Luwian and Assyrian art of the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age. The "angel" (human with birds' wings, see winged genie) the "mermaid" (part human part fish, see Enki, Atargatis, Apkallu) and the (Shedu) all trace their origins to Assyro-Babylonian art. In Mesopotamian mythology the urmahlullu, or lion-man served as a guardian spirit, especially of bathrooms.[4][5] The Old Babylonian Lilitu demon, particularly as shown in the Burney Relief (part woman part owl) prefigures the harpy/siren motive.

Luwian and Assyrian motives are imitated in Archaic Greece, during the Orientalizing Period (9th to 8th centuries BC), inspiring the monsters of classical Greek mythology such as the Chimera, the Harpy, the Centaur, the Griffin, the Hippocamp, Talos etc.

The motive of the "winged man" appears in the Assyrian winged genie, and is taken up in the Biblical Seraphim and Chayot, the Etruscan Vanth, Hellenistic Eros-Amor, and ultimately the Christian iconography of angels. Assyrian hybrids also entered Persian art, as in the Faravahar or the Buraq.

The motive of otherwise human figures sporting horns may derive from partly goat hybrids (as in Pan and the Devil in Christian iconography) or as partly bull hybrids (Minotaur). The Gundestrup cauldron and the Pashupati figure have stag's antlers (see also Horned God, horned helmet). The Christian representation of Moses with horns, however, is due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew text of Exodus 34:29-35 by Jerome.

The most prominent hybrid in Hindu iconography is elephant-headed Ganesha. Both Nāga and Garuda are non-hybrid mythical animals (snake and bird, respectively) in their early attestations, but become partly human hybrids in later iconography.

See also

References

  1. ^ Steiger, B. (1999). The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink. ISBN 1-57859-078-7. 
  2. ^ Eliade, Mircea (1965). Rites and Symbols of Initiation: the mysteries of birth and rebirth. Harper & Row. 
  3. ^ a term of Marija Gimbutas', see e.g. The language of the goddess: unearthing the hidden symbols of western civilization San Francisco: Harper & Row; London: Thames and Hudson (1989).
  4. ^ Black, Jeremy A. and Anthony Green (1992). Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70794-0. 
  5. ^ Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Styx. ISBN 9-072-37152-6. 

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mythology of Stargate — In the fictional universe of the Stargate franchise, the people of Earth have encountered numerous extraterrestrial races on their travels through the Stargate. In addition to a diversity of alien life, there is also an abundance of other humans …   Wikipedia

  • Mythology of The X-Files — A supposed UFO seen in Passoria, New Jersey. Much of the shows mythology centers around alien existence and their plans to colonize Earth …   Wikipedia

  • Hybrid — A hybrid is the combination of two or more different things, aimed at achieving a particular objective or goal. In different contexts this may refer to: *In mythology and iconography **Mythological hybrid, a creature combining body parts of two… …   Wikipedia

  • Hybrid (metal band) — Infobox musical artist Name = Hybrid Background = group or band Origin = Madrid, Spain Genre = Extreme metal Mathcore Technical death metal Brutal death Grindcore Avant garde metal Years active = 2004 – present Label = Eyesofsound Associated acts …   Wikipedia

  • Makara (Hindu mythology) — Makara as the Vahana (vehicle) of the goddess Ganga Makara (Sanskrit: मकर) is a sea creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal (in the frontal part in animal forms of elephant or crocodile or stag, or deer)… …   Wikipedia

  • Shapeshifter (Anita Blake mythology) — Numerous different types of shapeshifters exist in the universe, including werewolves and wererats. Anita distinguishes between lycanthropes, which includes solely persons infected by contact with another lycanthrope s bodily fluids, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Chimera (mythology) — The Chimera on a red figure Apulian plate, ca 350–340 BC (Musée du Louvre) For other uses of the term chimera, see Chimera (disambiguation). The Chimera or Chimaera ( …   Wikipedia

  • Giant (mythology) — The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. Giant is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of… …   Wikipedia

  • Chi (mythology) — Han Dynasty jade ring of a chi 螭 dragon …   Wikipedia

  • Hittite mythology — Heavily influenced by Mesopotamian mythology, the religion of the Hittites and Luwians retains noticeable Indo European elements, for example Tarhunt the god of thunder, and his conflict with the serpent Illuyanka.Tarhunt has a son, Telepinu and… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.