Did Unicorns live a few hundred years ago?

Onthebit

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quite huge too, will take an while to look at
Half way through only looking at the drawings and noticing names I recognize. There are a lot of pictures of fire coming from the sky. And in particular genetic mutations as a result......? There's an 'english' translation I'll read after I peruse the artwork....... The book is supposedly a true history of the world of course now denied as mere fantasy fiction.
 

MoonWatcher

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KorbenDallas - What is the oldest representation of a unicorn you were able to find?
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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KorbenDallas - What is the oldest representation of a unicorn you were able to find?
I am not sure, I have not been looking for the age thing. Alexander the Great supposed to be pretty old, but looks like he could be a medieval character.

Things are getting cleaned up. The book I got these images from has been deleted by the New York Public Library. At least the original link comes back with blanks. Hopefully it's just a temporary issue.

Historiae naturalis de quadrupedibus libri, cum aeneis figuris, Johannes Jonstonus,... concinnavit (J. J. Schipperi, Amsterdam, 1657)
 

SeekingWis

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I have been trying to go through Joannes Jonstonus’s books, with very little success as my Latin is by no means good. But I have gotten a few impressions from the attempts.

In his various volumes of Historiae naturalis there are depictions of various mythological animals but they are rarely explored within the text. Instead, he tends to write about the somewhat more normal animals, say a donkey or hippopotamus.

A case where I did find him discussing a depicted mythological creature was the Phoenix in Vol VI. From what I could tell, in this section he starts by calling it a mythical bird, covers it's scholarly history, and eventually seemed to say that he thought he saw one but he was wrong.

There was also a picture of a one horned ass in Vol I and he then discusses the ass, but I did not see any reference to the horn even though he discussed much of its anatomy.

There was what I think was Greek that I had no hope of translating, which may have made me miss things. And my attempts to translate and read through could easily have been and most likely were off, and I have by no means gone through everything, but I don’t think he actually saw any of the mythical creatures that were depicted, or if he did, they and their, what we consider, unique features were so commonplace as to not be mentioned beyond the depiction of them.

Of interest, however, is how he regularly makes mentions of the Greeks, Herodotus, Claudianus, Pliny, Heliopolis and the like, leaving me with the feeling that they are contemporary, or at the very least recent, not a millennium and a half ago.

That leads me to question why their existence would be converted to myth?
As pure speculation, for unicorns, in most tales they are depicted as being very particular, only allowing the pure, chaste, calm, good, respectful, or similar other positive qualities near them or to ride them. If, as some people think, there is something different about our current rulers/the history stealers is it too far-fetched to think that unicorns may have been able to detect that difference and shied away from such people? To me this could explain a few things.

I could provide a technical potential explanation for what the difference is and how a unicorn could detect it, but I’m already going to go into several speculative directions in this post…

If it was common knowledge that unicorns could so easily identify the worthy, this could explain why conquerors such as Alexander and the Korean King Dongmyeong of Goguryeo were claimed to ride unicorns. It’s a similar tactic is claiming to have divine right.

As even further out there speculation, it may be that worthy Scythian and Tartar Kings, and perhaps even people, really did ride unicorns, and when their country was wiped out and history rewritten, their custom may have been instead ascribed to the rulers of those that rewrote the history.

Well, you guys have those The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries. Apparently, the original workmanship of the tapestries still remains unanswered at the present.
Similarly, if there was a group that was “unworthy” that wanted to rule and control everyone and everything and there was an animal that could so easily identify them as such and that this would be trusted by the general people, then it would make sense that they would want to remove or eliminate the animal so that there wouldn’t be such a clear reason to remove them from power.

This could explain things like unicorn hunts, the seeming disappearance of every branch of the species, and the transformation of their very existence to a mere myth. For mass hunting, those that wanted this done could have even had the common people do it for them by convincing them that unicorn horns had special magical or medicinal properties.

If all this is the case, and so too is my suspicion that the revisionists trace back at least to the Greek mystery schools such as the Pythagorean’s, then it would make sense that the unicorns had already been wiped or in the process of being wiped by Jonstonus’s time.
 
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Onijunbei

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I think there is a unicorn on urbano's map of 1587... And of course when I go to look for pictures of it I can't get my phone to zoom in well enough to find it...
 

Onijunbei

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In Tartary
View attachment 13901

Unicorn in Chains
View attachment 13902

Coat of Arms of Victoria, the Princess Royal later the Empress Frederick of the German Empire, mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Alicorno.... Maybe someone already thought of this.. Maybe most of the creatures on Urbano's map is heraldry and not real creatures (not inferring they never existed because what were they basing their heraldry off of). Korben did you already write something about the peculiarity of the unicorn being in chains?
 

Maybe

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I love old books and the older the better. So from this book Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China During the years 1844-5-6. Volume 2 :
we get:

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and this text (page 246):
The unicorn, which has long been regarded as a fabulous creature, really exists in Thibet. You find it frequently represented in the sculptures and paintings of the Buddhic temples. Even in China, you often see it in the landscapes that ornament the inns of the northern provinces. The inhabitants of Atdza spoke of it, without attaching to it any greater importance than to the other species of antelopes which abound in their mountains. We have not been fortunate enough to see the unicorn during our travels in Upper Asia. But all we were there told about it serves to confirm the curious details which Klaproth has published on this subject in the new Journal Asiatique. We think it not irrelevant p. 246to give here an interesting note which that learned orientalist has added to his translation of the “Itinerary of Lou-Hoa-Tchou.”

“The unicorn of Thibet is called, in the language of this country, serou; in Mongol, kere; and in Chinese, tou-kio-cheou: which means the one-horned animal, or kio-touan, the straight horn. The Mongols sometimes confound the unicorn with the rhinoceros, called in Mantchou, bodi-gourgou; and in Sanscrit, khadga; calling the latter also, kere.”

The unicorn is mentioned, for the first time, by the Chinese, in one of their works, which treats of the history of the first two ages of our era. It is there said that the wild horse, the argali, and the kio-touan, are animals foreign to China; that they belong to Tartary, and that they use the horns of the latter to make the bows called unicorn bows.

The Chinese, Mahometans, and Mongol historians agree in the following tradition, relative to a fact which took place in 1224, when Tchinggiskhan was preparing to attack Hindostan. “This conqueror having subdued Thibet,” says the Mongol history, “set out to penetrate into Enedkek (India.) As he was ascending Mount Djadanaring, he perceived a wild beast approaching him, of the species called serou, which has but one horn on the top of the head. This beast knelt thrice before the monarch, as if to show him respect. Every one being astonished at this event, the monarch exclaimed: ‘The Empire of Hindostan is, they say, the birth-place of the majestic Buddhas and the Buddhistavas, and also of the powerful Bogdas or princes of antiquity. What then can be the meaning of this dumb animal saluting me like a human being?’ Having thus spoke, he returned to his country.” Although this circumstance is fabulous, it demonstrates, nevertheless, the existence of a one-horned animal on the upper mountains of Thibet. There are further, in this country, places deriving their name from the great number of these animals, which, in fact, live there in herds; for example, the district of Serou-Dziong, which means, the village of the land of unicorns, and which is situate in the eastern part of the province of Kham, towards the frontier of China.

A Thibetian manuscript, which the late Major Lattre had an opportunity of examining, calls the unicorn the one-horned tsopo. A horn of this animal was sent to Calcutta: it was fifty centimetres in length, and twelve centimetres in circumference from the root; it grew smaller and smaller, and terminated in a point. It p. 247was almost straight, black, and somewhat flat at the sides. It had fifteen rings, but they were only prominent on one side.
BUT and I have a BIG BUTT (lol) I have issuses with the time of authorship!
At this point many old books regarding history and historical figures were written and became the dogmatic truth.

Anyway just thought to put this here. Of value or not?
 

BrokenAgate

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The top one looks like a cross between a rhinoceros and a donkey, but the others in this series all seem to be some kind of antelope. Were unicorns more closely related to antelope than horses? They are always depicted with cloven hooves in the old art.

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The (Un-)Natural History of Man-Made Unicorns

Both cows and goats can be made to grow a single horn by surgically moving the horn buds to the top of the head so that they grow together. Were unicorns a genetic experiment? If you could genetically modify goats or antelope so that the horn buds grew at the top of the skull instead of the sides, you'd have a population of unicorns that reproduced naturally.
 
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KorbenDallas

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I would say that back in the day one horn was probably just as common as two today. Meaning multiple species shared the trait.

Now, tell me if I’m seeing things, but I think these are two North American unicorns on this
1536 Harleian map. There is a whole bunch of other interesting drawings on this map when referenced against 1536, but those are for a different thread or two.

17004
 

sineNrise

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Évariste Régis Huc, or Abbé Huc, (1813-1860) was a French missionary traveller, famous for his accounts of China, Tartary and Tibet. Since the travels of the Englishman, Thomas Manning, in Tibet (1811-1812), no European had visited Lhasa. Huc stimulated European interest in Central Asia and blazed a trail for Asian studies. This book includes the first part of the Abbé's travels in that region from 1844 to 1856. It leaves stunning pictures of a world few people have ever seen.

Travels In Tartary, Thibet, And China, Volume I
 

Born Curious

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I believe that this strange mythical creatures, including cynocephalus, got some connection with opening of the dimensional portals and merging of the worlds which happened few hundred years ago. Those portals were later closed and that is why we can't find them anymore. Story goes that Gog and Magog aka Tartarians were keepers or guardians of those portals all over the world, but after that civilisation started to fall, portals were opened by some black magicians and dimensions merged together. Now I just need to remember where did I heard about this story
 
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