How the Unicorn Gets its Nobility
This is a short history of the unicorn thanks to Odell Shepherd who wrote "The Lore of the Unicorn." Besides being an extremely beautiful and mythical creature, the history of the unicorn goes back as far as mankind through words and ancient imagery. The unicorn represented the moon in Babylonia. The lion was the sun and he chased the silver unicorn.
In Greece in 415 BC Ctesias writes about unicorns after his visit to Persia.
"There are in India certain wild asses which are as large as horses, and larger. Their bodies are white, their heads are dark red, and their eyes dark blue. They have a horn on the forehead which is about eighteen inches in length. The dust filed from this horn is administered in a potion as a protection against deadly drugs."
Aristotle took Ctesias' word seriously and believe in the unicorn which he called the "Indian ass" 500 years after Aristotle, a Roman writer, Aelian, mentioned the unicorn often in his account of animals. Aelian notes that the unicorn is called kartajan which in Sanskrit means "Lord of the Desert". The unicorn is mentioned often in books and only the most scholarly and educated, like Julius Caesar, would know of the animal. It was not until the unicorn was passed down through religious stories that it became an animal of common legend and folklore.
The bible was translated into Hebrew in 300 BC. The translators were at a loss to define an animal in the bible called Re'em. "Fleet, fierce, indomitable and especially distinguished by the armour of its brow." was the descriptor they had and it reminded them of the unicorn and that is how the unicorn made it into the bible.
The unicorn often is a symbol for Christ in allegorical tales with the horn representing Christ's unity with his Father. As the myth of the unicorn evolves. The classical story that the unicorn can only be tamed by a virgin takes hold and there is often debate over whether or not the unicorn looks more like a horse or a goat. Over time the body of the horse wins over the goat but the unicorn retains it's cloven hooves, remnant of the goat.
By the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, the unicorn is depicted with grace, beauty and nobility by artists. The unicorn has a firm hold in religion as a symbol of heraldry and nobility. The unicorn is often seen depicted in coat of arms. It is a royal beast associated with Christ, kings and rulers.
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"The Lore of the Unicorn" by Odell Shepherd
Why Choose a Unicorn Tattoo
There are many reasons that the unicorn is a great choice for a tattoo. Combination horse, mythical creature and representative of nobility makes the unicorn an art and tattoo worthy subject. Here are some associations often found linked to the unicorn;
- Symbol of the moon (Babylonia)
- Symbol of Christ
- The unicorn's horn represents Christ's unity with God His Father
- The horn is a protector from deadly drugs if you drink from one. (India)
- The unicorn is small for its size and fierce.
- A unicorn cannot be taken by force.
- A unicorn can only be subdued by a virgin.
- Christian symbols recognizes the virgin as The Virgin Mary.
- The unicorn has the body of a horse but the cloven hooves and beard of a goat.
- The unicorn soon became a symbol of Royalty.
- The unicorn is found on the Scottish Coat of Arms.
- The Japanes version of the unicorn is called Kirin.
- Kirin can hunt criminals and pierce them through the heart with their horn.
- The Chinese unicorn is named Qilin.
- Qilin are a good omen and harms no one.
Create Your Own Tattoos
Unicorn Art as a Tattoo
How to Get a Unicorn Tattoo
Once you find a reputable tattoo artists you can bring in tattoos and art work of unicorns that you like to give the artists some ideas but never ask a tattoo artist to copy someone else's work. Copying other work is just plain wrong and it also happens to be illegal. Give your artist some time to draw up a preliminary sketch of your unicorn. Be clear about what you want. If you want something frilly with flowers and bows be clear! But remember: Unicorn tattoos are not just for girls.
While the unicorn may represent virtue and humility in the mythological world the unicorn is a bad ass. The unicorn was fierce and could not be conquered in a fight. The unicorn's horn was powerful with the ability to cure illness and ward off poisons. The unicorn represented royalty throughout the ages and was considered to be as fierce as a knight.
Once you have approved the art that your tattoo artists has drawn up for you, schedule an appointment and keep it! Your tattoo artist has worked very hard for you. Show up to the appointment on time, don't whine while you get your tattoo and if the tattoo artists that you have hired does not own the tattoo studio, remember to tip after they are through.
Following these simple and considerate steps will keep your artist happy and insure that you have a tattoo that you will cherish for ages. Congratulations on your decision for choosing a unicorn as a tattoo.
Unicorn Sculpture - Tribal Inspired Tattoo
Unicorn Tattoos Pictured
Quick Video of Unicorn Tattoo Designs
Unicorn Tattoos on Video
A unicorn tattoo does not have to be a sweet loveable image. Unicorns can be black work tattoos, fierce, tribal, intimidating, fantasy and extremely original when etched on to your skin. This video from World's Best Tattoos shows high quality, original unicorn tattoos.
Browse through this video gallery for inspiration. There are unicorn images for your arms, back, and legs. Find an image then print it out. Check it out!
Know you Costs
|Average Cost of a Tattoo||What a Sleeve Costs||By Size|
HIGH $150 - 180 per hour
$1500 - 1800
Large $300 to 600
MED $100 - 120 per hour
$1200 - 1500
Medium $100 to 300
LOW $60 - 80 per hour
$800 - 1000
Quarter size $50 - 100
IPU Invisible Pink Unicorn
Where Will You Place Your Unicorn?
drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 19, 2015:
So the unicorn was a 'bad ass.' What a downer to learn that, Corey. Thanks for the interesting info and exquisite unicorn illustrations.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 18, 2015:
Great hub, Corey. I used to have a photo of the Hunt of the Unicorn years ago. Lovely photos and drawings of unicorns too. Very cool and informative.