2008/10/10

Griffin (or gryphon)


Gold griffin fighting over sparkling diamond egg with serpent
(you can click the picture to get to its descriptive page)



Griffin (or gryphon)

The griffin is a Greek hybrid creature, a strange and legendary figure, usually represented as being part eagle, part lion, and occasionally part serpent. The griffin motif is found in sculpture of the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and Romans; in beast allegories of the early Christians; and in Gothic architecture of the late Middle Ages. The griffin remains common in heraldy, representing strength and vigilance.

A hybrid is a composite of two or more species of animal and/or human. Strange as they may appear, the Greeks were endlessly fond of fabricating these creatures - one will recognize hybrids in the earliest myths and legends, not to mention inhabiting numerous works of art. For the Greeks especially, these beings of the imagination must have had great significance, in that they represented the uncivilized forces in nature that opposed mankind.

The seven most known hybrids are:

The centaur
In Greek mythology and art, the centaur has the torso of a human combined with the body of a horse.
The cockatrice
This creature was also known as a basilisk ("king of serpents"), and its very glance could kill; the cockatrice was composed of a dragon's tail and assorted poultry parts.
The giants (gigantes)
These fierce and frightening beings were the offspring of Gaia (the Earth).
The griffin
According to myth, the griffin was a creature with a lion's body attached to the head, wings, and claws of an eagle.
The harpy
Harpies had female torsos melded with vulture parts; the name harpy is derived from the Greek word that means "snatcher".
The satyrs (faun)
Satyrs were often the companions of Dionysos, and these creatures were depicted in myth and art with the legs of goats and bestial natures.
The sirens
Women with bird-like bodies; sirens were legendary for luring sailors by singing their enchanted songs.

See also our:
other griffin jewelry
our latest acquisitions
extensive antique jewelry glossary
antique jewelry style overview





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