The unicorn is one of the best known mythical creatures today. It’s thought to represent strength, purity, and grace. While both China and Japan have early unicorn legends, their versions look very different from the European unicorn that most people have come to recognize. The European unicorn, usually depicted as a horse or goat-like animal, first appeared in Greek accounts of natural history. Early people believed the unicorn was a real biological creature that lived in far away lands such as India. The unicorn is also mentioned numerous times in certain translations of the Bible, though later translations corrected the word to ‘ox’ in place of unicorn.
Many animals were misinterpreted as unicorns. Rhinoceros’s and several antelope-like animals were occasionally called unicorns by early people. The horn of the narwhal whale was also brought to Europe and sold as belonging to the unicorn. The horn was thought to posses special healing powers and was highly sought by Europeans.
One legend tied with the unicorn is that virgin maidens are able to lure and capture the creature. Some believe the story is thought to be a metaphor for the Virgin Mary.
The unicorn legend is still thriving today, though people are less inclined to believe it actually exists. Stories, movies, books, and word of mouth are keeping this creature alive in our minds and our hearts.