Fun and Frolicking: Renn Fest 2016!

So Steve and some of our pals(Blue,Orangebird, JoJo and J )went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival a few weekends ago, and I went again with another set of friends(Phrog and Dooflunkey) yesterday. When I go, I love to go on a “creature hunt”, since monsters of all description are all around in the art and flags and crafts and tapestries and statuary and so forth. Here are some of my finds:

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Graves: The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

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Another little hobby of mine is learning about the symbols on grave markers; these pictorials can represent what the deceased person did in life as far as their job or hobbies,or indicate a belief or religion. While exploring a cemetery in Snellville I came across this symbol several times. It is a chain with three links,and in the links are the letters “FLT”. This represents the fraternal association known as The Independent Order of Odd Fellows . The letters “FLT”.stand for friendship, love and truth.

Dragons of Europe:The Zmaj of Serbia!

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In Serbia, the zmaj is revered(usually) as a benevolent being that is similar to the dragons of East Asia. A common description of these dragons states that they  have a ram’s head and a serpent’s body. In addition to having great strength and wisdom, they are said to protect the people from the Ala, or Azjada, another creature that was  believed to bring bad weather and storms that destroy crops.

The zmaj are also reputed to be able to take on different forms, including those of human beings. In human form, they were able to engage in one their favorite pastimes–the pursuit of women. Some zmaj are thought to be so engrossed in this activity to the extent that they abandon their duties protecting farmlands from bad weather. If the crops were destroyed by storms, villagers would gather to oust the zmaj from the houses of local women. The lust of the zmaj for mortal women is also a major theme in a Serbian folk tale known as The Tsarina Militza and the Zmaj of Yastrebatz.

Unicorns: The Karkadann!

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The Karkadann, or Persian Unicorn

I have seen and read so many versions of what the Karkadann looks like.
An early description of the karkadann comes from the eleventh century Persian scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī. His description of the animal says that it has “the build of a buffalo…a black, scaly skin; a dewlap hanging down under the skin. It has three yellow hooves on each foot…The tail is not long. The eyes lie low, farther down the cheek than is the case with all other animals. On the top of the nose there is a single horn which is bent upwards.“ In the work of another author, a part of al-Bīrūnī’s description exists that adds: “the horn is conical, bent back towards the head, and longer than a span…the animal’s ears protrude on both sides like those of a donkey, and…its upper lip forms into a finger-shape, like the protrusion on the end of an elephant’s trunk.”
Undoubtedly, the Indian Rhinoceros was the creature that he had described. However, the future confusion between the rhinoceros and the unicorn was already in progress, as the Persian language uses the same word– karkadann– for the mythological animal as it does for the rhinoceros. In illustrations of the karkadann this confusion is obvious.
Taking this description, scholars described continuously more fanciful versions of the “Persian unicorn”, complicated by the absence of first-hand knowledge and the difficulty of reading and interpreting old Arabic script.
A very notable difference concerned the horn: where Al-Biruni had listed a short, curved horn, later writers made it a long, straight horn. The horn then traveled in artists’ interpretations from the beast’s nose to its forehead.

In the 14th century, Ibn Battuta, in his travelogue, calls the rhinoceros he saw in India a karkadann, and described it as a rather pugnacious beast, driving away other animals—-even those as big as the elephant—from its territory, allowing no one else to graze there.

The name karkadann is a variation of the Persian kargadan, or Sanskrit kartajan, which is said to mean “lord of the desert”.