Category Archives: Mythological Beasts and Spirits

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Hippogriff

In the sky, they flew and galloped while cavorting overhead, Carried on each horse's body eagle's wings and eagle's head. From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
In the sky, they flew and galloped while cavorting overhead,
Carried on each horse’s body eagle’s wings and eagle’s head.
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

The Hippogriff had the front half of an eagle and the hind half of a horse. As the above imagery and verses imply, I have taken some liberties by giving this creature the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a horse. I did this because it was easier for me to draw with my limited technique and because I found it easier to use in rhyme.

This mythological beast appeared on heraldic coats of arms, and its symbolism is varied. In Greek mythology, it was the symbol of Apollo. In later heraldry, it represented such things as love or the dual nature of Christ. Hippogriffs were sometimes considered the incarnation of evil spirits. This flexibility of meaning left me with plenty of wiggle room for my own story, and I felt free to make things up. I enjoy re-imagining older concepts.

Shown below are two representations from Orlando furioso, a poem written by Ludovico Ariosto.

Roger delivrant Angelique (1824) by Louis-Edouard Riouit.
Roger delivrant Angelique (1824) by Louis-Edouard Riouit.

Illustration by Gustave Dore from Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.
Illustration by Gustave Dore from Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto.

More people are probably familiar with Buckbeak from the Harry Potter series of movies from Warner Brothers.

Credit: Warner Brothers
Credit: Warner Brothers

Val Jones working on a model of Buckbeak for Warner Brothers.
Val Jones working on a model of Buckbeak for Warner Brothers.

Now that you’ve seen what professionals can do, I’ll end with another of my amateurish drawings from The Staff in the Tree.

"Who consumes this fallen carnage of the armies from the east? Here the Hippogriffs will gather. Here the Hippogriffs will feast." From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
“Who consumes this fallen carnage of the armies from the east?
Here the Hippogriffs will gather. Here the Hippogriffs will feast.”
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

Sometimes I wonder, but my technique might have improved a little since sixth grade. More next week.

Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Shedu

Padded paws and feathered wingspan, lion's mane, and all of white, Softly silent, pale and ghostly, stalked the Shedu in the night. From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III
Padded paws and feathered wingspan, lion’s mane, and all of white,
Softly silent, pale and ghostly, stalked the Shedu in the night.
From: The Staff in the Tree by Robert Lambert Jones III

In ancient Mesopotamia (Assyria), the Shedu (alternate name Lamassu)  was a winged animal (usually a bull or a lion) with the head of a man.

shedu1

On a visit to London, I saw some of these relief sculptures at the British Museum, and they are impressive.

In later European heraldry, the Shedu is a winged lion. It is sometimes used as a symbol for Christian saints or concepts. One interesting application is that of the winged lion with its paw on an open book. This is a symbol of peace.

shedu2

Below are some more representations of this mythological beast.

shedu3

I like the above sculpture by Scott Eaton of a Shedu doing battle with Wyverns. It’s easier to see if you click on the image to enlarge it.

Here is an interesting composition by Ezra Tucker:

shedu

shedu4

The colors and relatively simple lines in the above illustration by Synnabar work for me, too.

As the image at the beginning of this post indicates, I have used the Shedu as a character for my “epic” story poem, The Staff in the Tree.

More next week…