The mythology of any civilization reflects its core values, greatest fears, and highest hopes and so it is with the mythology of ancient Persia. The great heroes like Karsasp, Thraetaona, and Rustum express particularly Persian values but, as with all mythical figures, are recognizable to people of any culture as role models whose best qualities are worth emulating. This is also true for many creatures of ancient Persian mythology, the forces for good as well as evil, in that they touch upon universal concerns of the human condition through the specific details of their characters symbolizing various apprehensions and possibilities.
The stories which form the basis of Persian mythology come from early Persian religious belief. One refers to these – and similar stories from any culture – as “mythology” in the present day only because the theological paradigm has changed and a universe of many gods, spirits, angels, and demons has been replaced either by the monotheistic or atheistic model. In their time, however, they would have served the same basic purpose as the scripture of any religion does in modern times: to teach important spiritual and cultural values and assure people of order and meaning in the face of an often chaotic and frightening world.
The stories were passed down orally over the centuries until they were written down as part of the religious tradition of Zoroastrianism in the Avesta (Zoroastrian scripture) during the Sassanian Period (224-651 CE) in the reigns of the kings Shapur II (309-379 CE) and Kosrau I (531-579 CE) and then were fully addressed by the Persian poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi (l. 940-1020 CE) in his epic work Shahnameh (“The Book of Kings”) written between 977-1010 CE. By the time Ferdowsi was writing, monotheism in the form of Islam had replaced the ancient Persian religion, but his work still resonated with an audience and continues to do so.
Ancient Persian Religion
The central vision of ancient Persian religion was of a universal struggle between the forces of good & evil, order & chaos.
The central vision of ancient Persian religion was of a universal struggle between the forces of good and evil, order and chaos. This exact theme is the foundation of virtually every ancient world religion to one degree or another, but for the Persians, it amounted to the meaning of existence. There were two forces at work in the universe which were antithetical to each other and whichever side one aligned one's self with would define one's earthly journey and destination in the afterlife.
On the side of good was a pantheon of gods and spirits presided over by the supreme deity Ahura Mazda, the creator of all things seen and unseen, and, opposing these, was Angra Mainyu (also given as Ahriman), the spirit of evil, chaos, and confusion with his legion of demons and assorted supernatural (and natural) creatures and animals. Ahura Mazda had created human beings with free will to choose which course they would follow and, if one chose rightly, one would live well and find paradise in the afterlife, if poorly, one lived a life of confusion and strife and was dropped into the torment of hell after death.
The creatures which appear in Persian mythology almost all fall into one of these two camps except for the Jinn (also given as Djinn and better known as Genies) and the Peri (faeries) who defy easy definition as their roles seem more neutral and their actions dependent on circumstance rather than loyalty to a given cause. Although there are many different mythological creatures in the Persian tales, twelve are representative of the thematic whole:
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- Huma Bird
- Chamrosh and Kamak
- Al (also given as Hal)
- Suroosh and Daena
- Jinn (Djinn)
- Azhi Dahaka (Azhdaha)
All of these entities influenced human daily life to one degree or another. Some, like the Peri or the Al, were considered a constant in one's life while others – such as Simurgh or Azhi Dahaka – represented a universal paradigm which informed one's present. Whether one or the other, the natural and supernatural forces the figures represent were recognized as quite real and steps were taken to defend against the malevolent and give proper respect to those who wished only the best for humanity.
Among the latter were dogs who personified the protective aspects of divinity and figure in the representations of some of the most important benevolent creatures. Dogs warded off evil spirits, comforted and guided, and watched over one's most valuable possessions. They were considered so important that their role as guardians was preserved once the early religion of the Persians was reimagined by the prophet Zoroaster (c. 1500-1000 BCE) who kept them as the keepers of the Chinvat Bridge, the span across the abyss between the world of the living and the dead. Like all other animals, the dog owed its existence to the life-giving energies of one of the first of Ahura Mazda's creations, the Primordial Bull.
Gavaevodata is the Primordial Bull (also known as the Uniquely Created Bull, Primordial Bovine, Primordial Ox) who was among the earliest creations of Ahura Mazda. The Supreme Deity first created sky – an orb – and then filled it with water and separated the water with earth, which was planted with various types of vegetation, and then made the Primordial Bull, which was brilliant white and glowed like the moon. Gavaevodata was so beautiful, it attracted the attention of Angra Mainyu who killed it and, afterwards, it was transported to the moon and purified; from its purified seed came all animals who would feed on, and fertilize, the earth's vegetation. Once animals were created, Ahura Mazda then created human beings and then fire, but Gavaevodata was the first unique entity on earth and establishes the high value the Persians placed on animals.
Simurgh – known as the dog-bird – was an enormous winged creature with the head of a dog, body of a peacock, and claws of a lion, sometimes also imagined with a human face. Simurgh lived high in the Alburz Mountains, existing for a span of 1,700 years before it dove into a fire of its own creation and died, only to rise again (like the later Phoenix). Simurgh was thought to possess great wisdom and features prominently in the story of the hero Zal – whom she raised – and the birth of his son Rustum (also given as Rostom and Rustam), the greatest Persian hero. She taught Zal how to deliver a difficult birth through the Caesarian section and also instructed him in medicinal herbs for healing. In early myths, she is known as Saena, the Great Falcon, who sits in the upper branches of the Tree of All Seeds and, by fluttering her wings, sends seeds flying to the ground and across the world to find their way into the earth.
The Huma Bird is a later version of Simurgh, who was said to fly eternally over the earth, never landing, and if its shadow should fall upon an individual, that person would be blessed and happy all the days of their lives. The Huma was responsible for legitimizing kingship and its image was prominent at Persepolis, the magnificent ritual capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire begun by Darius I (the Great, r. 522-486 BCE). The Huma was considered the most sacred bird and injuring – or even attempting to injure it – brought great misfortune. If someone saw or even thought they saw the bird flying overhead, however, it was a great blessing. In time, the Huma would come to symbolize the concept of elevation and enlightenment. Like Simurgh and the later Phoenix, the Huma was thought to live an immensely long life, die in its own flames, and give birth to itself afterwards.
Chamrosh & Kamak
Chamrosh and Kamak are also giant birds; Chamrosh a force for good and Kamak for evil. Chamrosh has a dog's body with the head and wings of an eagle. It lives beneath the Tree of All Seeds, gathers up those which fall when Saena-Simurgh flaps her wings, and scatters them into the wind and rain clouds which deposit the seeds all over the earth. Chamrosh is also a protective entity who defends Persians against outside invaders, especially raiders, swooping down upon them and carrying them off. Kamak plays precisely the opposite role, feeding on Persians and their livestock and bringing destruction. Kamak is so enormous that its spread wings blocked the rain, bringing drought to the land, and in the chaos which followed it easily plucked up human and animal prey to feed on. The Persian hero Karsasp finally kills Kamak by showering it with arrows continuously.
The Al were invisible unless they wanted to be seen, so only their effects made people aware of their existence.
The Al is a nocturnal predator who preys on newborns and was among the most feared of all the evil spirits. It was usually depicted as an old woman with sharp teeth, long, stringy hair, and talons which could also harm or kill pregnant women and would strike when mother and child were sleeping. The Al was part of a larger group of evil demons known as the Umm Naush – nocturnal predators – who were themselves a subgroup of the larger assortment of demons known as khrafstra – harmful spirits or demons – who disrupted and destroyed lives. The Al, like the other khrafstra, were invisible unless they wanted to be seen so, for the most part, only their effects made people aware of their existence. The general khrafstra manifested themselves frequently in the natural world, taking on the form of wasps, stinging ants, beasts of prey, rodents, spiders, and similar creatures.
The Manticore (“man-eater”) is a fearsome beast with the head of a man, body of a lion, and tail of a scorpion (or, alternately, a tail ending in venomous quills which it shot at prey). It was considered invincible since its hide was so thick that no weapon could penetrate it and it moved faster than any other living thing on earth. The manticore could kill anything except for elephants and especially enjoyed human beings, devouring them whole and leaving no trace except, sometimes, stray spatters of blood. It lurked in the long, uncultivated grasses away from towns and cities and struck without warning except, sometimes, seems to have announced itself with a growl which sounded like a loud trumpet. When someone in the community went missing, and there was no clue as to what happened to them, it was judged to be the work of a manticore.
The Peris are tiny, lovely, winged creatures – neither good nor evil – who enjoy playing pranks on people but can also be helpful. They were thought to be spirits imprisoned in the fairy-form to atone for a past sin or sins but were not considered immortal and were certainly not human souls. A Peri might bring a message from the gods or, alternately, trick someone into believing some untruth or an outright lie. They largely appear in folklore as pranksters who hide objects or misdirect, and their most popular antics would be the ancient Persian equivalent of hiding a person's car keys. They were later elevated to benevolent spirits by the Muslim Arabs and served the same purpose as angels in bringing messages from the divine.
Suroosh & Daena
Suroosh symbolized protection & Daena one's own conscience.
Suroosh is the angel who stands on the Chinvat Bridge and Daena is the Holy Maiden who works beside him. Suroosh symbolized protection and Daena one's own conscience. Both assist the newly dead in their crossing from life to death. After the soul has left the body, it was thought to linger on earth for three days while the gods came to a decision regarding one's life and final fate. The soul then approached the Chinvat Bridge which was guarded by two dogs who would welcome the justified soul and rebuff those who were evil. Daena would appear and, for the justified soul, would be a beautiful young woman while, to the condemned, she would appear as an ugly hag. Suroosh would guard the soul against demonic attack as it crossed the bridge to meet the angel Rashnu, judge of the dead, who would decide whether the soul went to the paradise of the House of Song or the hell of the House of Lies.
Jinn were supernatural entities who, like the Peri, were neither immortal nor human souls. They were thought to inhabit lonely places outside of towns – such as caves or hills – and had power to influence human thought and action. Like the Peri, they were neutral in the struggle between good and evil and seem to have based their actions on the circumstance of the moment. Jinn might grant a person their greatest wishes but twist the end result tragically or, at least, negatively but could just as easily honor the individual's desires in making their dreams come true. Overall, they were regarded with suspicion, and amulets were carried for protection from their influence. They are best known from the Persian work One Thousand Nights and a Night (also known as The Arabian Nights) where Jinn play a pivotal role. They were also, like the Peri, adopted by the Muslim Arabs as neutral, though potentially dangerous, supernatural forces.
Azhi Dahaka was the great three-headed dragon created out of the lies of Angra Mainyu to thwart any positive impulse in the world and create chaos. Dragon-serpents (azhi) frequently appear in Persian mythology as the embodiment of evil and disorder, and Azhi Dahaka was the most fearsome of them all. It is described as having a thousand senses and so is aware of any possible threat and can defend against it while, at the same time, knowing where its prey is at any time. It was considered invincible and was only finally defeated by the great Persian hero Thraetaona who captured and imprisoned him, keeping him in chains until the end of the world at which time he will be killed by the resurrected Karsasp, slayer of Kamak.
These figures, and many others like them, embodied the daily fears of the people such as loss of a child (the Al) or unexplained death or disappearance (the manticore) or why events in life could go so wrong when everything seemed to have been proceeding so smoothly. Alternately, entities like Suroosh and Daena or creatures like Simurgh gave people confidence that they were cared for, that there was someone looking out for them and protecting their interests.
One notable example of this is the creature not yet mentioned here known as the Karakadann/Koresk – better known as the unicorn – a shy and elusive animal who kept to itself in remote places. Its horn was thought to be a powerful antidote to poison and seeing one was thought to bring good luck. Even if one never actually saw a Koresk, one could still have hope one would someday and all one's problems would be solved in a sudden streak of supernatural good fortune.
The great heroes like Thraetaona or Karsasp or Rustum who defeated the forces of chaos served the same purpose, standing for the principles of goodness, justice, and order in an uncertain world and giving people hope that these ideals would triumph over selfishness, cruelty, and chaos. One of the central values of ancient Persian culture was storytelling, and through their rich mythology, they created some of the most memorable characters and tales in world history which have fascinated audiences ever since.
Shahmaran (Persian: شاهماران Şahmaran, lit. 'Shah (king) of the Snakes' Kurdish: Şahmaran/Şamaran, Turkish: Şahmeran, Tatar: Şahmara or Zilant, Зилант or Aq Yılan, Chuvash: Вĕреçĕлен, lit. 'Fire snake'), is a mythical creature, half woman and half snake, found with different variations in the folklore of Iran, Anatolia, the Armenian Highlands,  Iraq, and of the Kurds.
The name of Shahmaran comes from Persian words "Shah" and "Maran".  "Shah" is a title used for Persian kings,  "mar" means snake, but in plural "mar-an" means snakes.
Aži (nominative ažiš) is the Avestan word for "serpent" or "dragon."  It is cognate to the Vedic Sanskrit word ahi, "snake," and without a sinister implication.
The original meaning of dahāka is uncertain. Among the meanings suggested are "stinging" (source uncertain), "burning" (cf. Sanskrit dahana), "man" or "manlike" (cf. Khotanese daha), "huge" or "foreign" (cf. the Dahae people and the Vedic dasas). In Persian mythology, Dahāka is treated as a proper noun, and is the source of the Ḍaḥḥāk (Zahhāk) of the Shāhnāme.
The Avestan term Aži Dahāka and the Middle Persian azdahāg are the source of the Middle Persian Manichaean demon of greed Az,  Old Armenian mythological figure Aždahak, Modern Persian 'aždehâ/aždahâ', Tajik Persian 'azhdahâ', Urdu 'azhdahā' (اژدها), as well as the Kurdish ejdîha (ئەژدیها) which usually mean "dragon".
The name also migrated to Eastern Europe,  assumed the form "azhdaja" and the meaning "dragon", "dragoness"  or "water snake"  in Balkanic and Slavic languages. 
Despite the negative aspect of Aži Dahāka in mythology, dragons have been used on some banners of war throughout the history of Iranian peoples.
The Azhdarchid group of pterosaurs are named from a Persian word for "dragon" that ultimately comes from Aži Dahāka.
Aži Dahāka is the most significant and long-lasting of the ažis of the Avesta, the earliest religious texts of Zoroastrianism. He is described as a monster with three mouths, six eyes, and three heads, cunning, strong, and demonic. In other respects Aži Dahāka has human qualities, and is never a mere animal. [ citation needed ]
Aži Dahāka appears in several of the Avestan myths and is mentioned parenthetically in many more places in Zoroastrian literature. [ citation needed ]
In a post-Avestan Zoroastrian text, the Dēnkard, Aži Dahāka is possessed of all possible sins and evil counsels, the opposite of the good king Jam (or Jamshid). The name Dahāg (Dahāka) is punningly interpreted as meaning "having ten (dah) sins". [ citation needed ] His mother is Wadag (or Ōdag), herself described as a great sinner, who committed incest with her son. [ citation needed ]
In the Avesta, Aži Dahāka is said to have lived in the inaccessible fortress of Kuuirinta in the land of Baβri, where he worshipped the yazatas Arədvī Sūrā (Anāhitā), divinity of the rivers, and Vayu, divinity of the storm-wind. Based on the similarity between Baβri and Old Persian Bābiru (Babylon), later Zoroastrians localized Aži Dahāka in Mesopotamia, though the identification is open to doubt. Aži Dahāka asked these two yazatas for power to depopulate the world. Being representatives of the Good, they refused.
In one Avestan text, Aži Dahāka has a brother named Spitiyura. Together they attack the hero Yima (Jamshid) [ clarification needed ] and cut him in half with a saw, but are then beaten back by the yazata Ātar, the divine spirit of fire. [ citation needed ]
According to the post-Avestan texts, following the death of Jam ī Xšēd (Jamshid), [ clarification needed ] Dahāg gained kingly rule. Another late Zoroastrian text, the Mēnog ī xrad, says this was ultimately good, because if Dahāg had not become king, the rule would have been taken by the immortal demon Xešm (Aēšma), and so evil would have ruled upon earth until the end of the world.
Dahāg is said to have ruled for a thousand years, starting from 100 years after Jam lost his Khvarenah, his royal glory (see Jamshid). He is described as a sorcerer who ruled with the aid of demons, the daevas (divs).
The Avesta identifies the person who finally disposed of Aži Dahāka as Θraētaona son of Aθβiya, in Middle Persian called Frēdōn. The Avesta has little to say about the nature of Θraētaona's defeat of Aži Dahāka, other than that it enabled him to liberate Arənavāci and Savaŋhavāci, the two most beautiful women in the world. Later sources, especially the Dēnkard, provide more detail. Feyredon is said to have been endowed with the divine radiance of kings (Khvarenah, New Persian farr) for life, and was able to defeat Dahāg, striking him with a mace. However, when he did so, vermin (snakes, insects and the like) emerged from the wounds, and the god Ormazd told him not to kill Dahāg, lest the world become infested with these creatures. Instead, Frēdōn chained Dahāg up and imprisoned him on the mythical Mt. Damāvand [ citation needed ] (later identified with Damāvand).
The Middle Persian sources also prophesy that at the end of the world, Dahāg will at last burst his bonds and ravage the world, consuming one in three humans and livestock. Kirsāsp, the ancient hero who had killed the Az ī Srūwar, returns to life to kill Dahāg. [ citation needed ]
In Ferdowsi's epic poem, the Shāhnāmah, written c. 1000 AD and part of Iranian folklore, the legend is retold with the main character given the name of Zahhāk and changed from a supernatural monster into an evil human being.
Zahhāk in Arabia Edit
According to Ferdowsi, Zahhāk was born as the son of a ruler named Merdās (Persian: مرداس ). Because of his Arab lineage, he is sometimes called Zahhāk-e Tāzī (Persian: ضحاکِ تازی ), meaning "Zahhāk the Tayyi". He is handsome and clever, but has no stability of character and is easily influenced by his counselors. Ahriman therefore chooses him as a tool to sow disorder and chaos. When Zahhāk is a young man, Ahriman first appears to him as a glib, flattering companion, and by degrees convinces him to kill his own father and inherit his kingdom, treasures and army. Zahhāk digs a deep pit covered over with leaves in a path to a garden where Merdās would pray each morning Merdās falls in and is killed. Zahhāk thus ascends to the throne.
Ahriman then presents himself to Zahhāk as a marvelous cook. After he presents Zahhāk with many days of sumptuous feasts (introducing meat to the formerly vegetarian human cuisine), Zahhāk is willing to give Ahriman whatever he wants. Ahriman merely asks to kiss Zahhāk on his two shoulders, and Zahhāk permits this. Ahriman places his lips upon Zahhāk's shoulders and suddenly disappears. At once, two black snakes grow from Zahhāk's shoulders. They cannot be surgically removed, as another snake grows to replace one that has been severed. Ahriman appears to Zahhāk in the form of a skilled physician. He counsels Zahhāk that attempting to remove the snakes is fruitless, and that the only means of soothing the snakes and preventing them from killing him is to sate their hunger by supplying them with a stew made from two human brains every day.
Zahhāk the Emperor Edit
At this time, Jamshid, the ruler of the world, becomes arrogant and loses his divine right to rule. Zahhāk presents himself as a savior to discontented Iranians seeking a new ruler. Collecting a great army, Zahhāk hunts Jamshid for many years before finally capturing him. Zahhāk executes Jamshid by sawing him in half and ascends to Jamshid's prior throne. Among his slaves are two of Jamshid's daughters, Arnavāz and Shahrnāz (the Avestan Arənavāci and Savaŋhavāci). Each day, Zahhāk's agents seize two men and execute them so that their brains can feed Zahhāk's snakes. Two men, called Armayel and Garmayel, seek to rescue people from being killed from the snakes by learning cookery and becoming Zahhāk's royal chefs. Each day, Armayel and Garmayel save one of the two men by sending him off to the mountains and faraway plains, and substitute the man's brain with that of a sheep. The saved men are the mythological progenitors of the Kurds.  
Zahhāk's tyranny over the world lasts for centuries. One night, Zahhāk dreams of three warriors attacking him. The youngest warrior knocks Zahhāk down with his mace, ties him up, and drags him off toward Mount Damāvand as a large crowd follows. Zahhāk wakes and shouts so loudly that the pillars of the palace shake. Following Arnavāz's counsel, Zahhāk summons wise men and scholars to interpret his dream. His hesitant consultants remain silent until the most fearless of the men reports that the dream is a vision of the end of Zahhāk's reign at the hands of Fereydun, the young man with the mace. Zahhāk is thrilled to learn the identity of his enemy, and orders his agents to search the entire country for Fereydun and capture him. The agents learn that Fereydun is a boy being nourished on the milk of the marvelous cow Barmāyeh. The spies trace Barmāyeh to the highland meadows where it grazes, but Fereydun and his mother have already fled before them. The agents kill the cow, but are forced to return to Zahhāk with their mission unfulfilled.
Revolution against Zahhāk Edit
Zahhāk lives the next few years in fear and anxiety of Fereydun, and thus writes a document testifying to the virtue and righteousness of his kingdom that would be certified by the kingdom's elders and social elite, in the hope that his enemy would be convinced against exacting vengeance. Much of the summoned assembly indulge the testimony out of fear for their lives. However, a blacksmith named Kāva (Kaveh) speaks out in anger for his children having been murdered to feed Zahhāk's snakes, and for his final remaining son being sentenced to the same fate. Zahhāk orders for Kāva's son to be released in a bid to coerce Kāva into certifying the document, but Kāva tears up the document, leaves the court, and creates a flag out of his blacksmith's apron as a standard of rebellion – the Kāviyāni Banner, derafsh-e Kāviyānī (درفش کاویانی). Kāva proclaims himself in support of Fereydun as ruler, and rallies a crowd to follow him to the Alborz mountains, where Fereydun is now living as a young man. Fereydun agrees to lead the people against Zahhāk and has a mace made for him with a head like that of an ox.
Fereydun goes forth to fight against Zahhāk, who has already left his capital, which falls to Fereydun with small resistance. Fereydun frees all of Zahhāk's prisoners, including Arnavāz and Shahrnāz. Kondrow, Zahhāk's treasurer, pretends to submit to Fereydun, but discreetly escapes to Zahhāk and reports to him what has happened. Zahhāk initially dismisses the matter, but he is incensed to learn that Fereydun has seated Jamshid's daughters on thrones beside him like his queens, and immediately hastens back to his city to attack Fereydun. Zahhāk finds his capital held strongly against him, and his army is in peril from the defense of the city. Seeing that he cannot reduce the city, he sneaks into his own palace as a spy and attempts to assassinate Arnavāz and Shahrnāz. Fereydun strikes Zahhāk down with his ox-headed mace, but does not kill him on the advice of an angel, he binds Zahhāk and imprisons him in a cave underneath Mount Damāvand. Fereydun binds Zahhāk with a lion's pelt tied to great nails fixed into the walls of the cavern, where Zahhāk will remain until the end of the world.
"Zahhak Castle" is the name of an ancient ruin in Hashtrud, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran which according to various experts, was inhabited from the second millennia BC until the Timurid-era. First excavated in the 19th century by British archeologists, Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization has been studying the structure in 6 phases. 
- The tale of Zahhak's defeat of Jamshid and subsequent defeat to Fereydun serves as the backstory of the 1992 Sega video game Defenders of Oasis. A descendant of Zahhak is a major antagonist in the game's plot.
- The Konami video game Suikoden V has two references to Zahhak—an evil knight named "Zahhak" as well as a large ship named "Dahak".
- In Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, there exists a primal zerg that goes by a similar name (Dehaka).
- In the webcomic Homestuck of MS Paint Adventures, Equius Zahhak is a troll with extreme physical strength and a fascination with horses.
- In the visual novelSekien no Inganock - What a Beautiful People, incorrectly-manifested Kikai are referred to as "Zahhak".
- In the video game series Mass Effect, a Quarian named Professor Zahak was involved in the creation of the Geth, a hive mind consciousness of artificially intelligent machines.
- In the Xenaverse, Zahhak (referred to as Dahak) is the supernatural (and thoroughly Satanic) adversary whom both Xena and later Hercules on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys must defeat in order to save the world from utter destruction. When Dahak appears on Hercules, his appearance is like a crustacean.
- In Final Fantasy Legend III (known outside the United States as SaGa 3), intermediate boss Dahak is depicted as a multiple-headed lizard.
- In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within the Prince of Persia flees from a powerful shadowy figure called The Dahaka.
- In Future Card Buddyfight the buddy of the main antagonist is named Demonic Demise Dragon, Azi Dahaka.
- The Marvel MAXTerror Inc. issues feature an immortal villain named Zahhak, bound to two demonic snakes. Unless fed with other people's brains, they start eating his own.
- In the Quest Corporation video game Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, Ahzi Dahaka is a venerable dragon of the Earth element that is commonly encountered during the latter half of the game.
- In High School DxD, Azi Dahaka is an Evil Dragon and considered as a very strong being. He leads a terrorist group together with another Evil Dragon named Apophis.
- In the light novel series Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren't They?, Azi Dahaka is represented as a three-headed white dragon and is one of the main antagonists in the series.
- In "In the Land of Angra Mainyu" by Stephen Goldin, Nameless Places, Arkham House,1975, Zahhak has escaped his cell and the professional hero must re-confine him until Judgement Day.
- In the Mount and Blade Warband mod Prophesy of Pendor, Azi Dahaka is the evil snake goddess worshiped by the Snake Cult. They have infiltrated the Empire faction and represent an important antagonist in the game.
- In Project Celeste, a fan remake of Age of Empires Online, there is a legendary piece of gear called Zahhak's Sword of the Undying. 
- In the Shadowverse card game Azi Dahaka appear as a legendary Dragoncraft-class card come from Chronogenesis Expansion.
- In Mage: The Awakening, Dahhak is portrayed as a fallen king of Atlantis, as well as the Aeon of Pandemonium.
- In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Dahak is the god of chromatic dragons, and the son of the dragons Apsu and Tiamat. He seeks to kill his father and reign over all dragonkind.
Besides Aži Dahāka, several other dragons and dragon-like creatures are mentioned in Zoroastrian scripture:
- Aži Sruvara - the 'horned dragon'
- Aži Zairita - the 'yellow dragon,' that is killed by the hero Kərəsāspa, Middle Persian Kirsāsp.  (Yasna 9.1, 9.30 Yasht 19.19)
- Aži Raoiδita - the 'red dragon' conceived by Angra Mainyu's to bring about the 'daeva-induced winter' that is the reaction to Ahura Mazda's creation of the Airyanem Vaejah.  (Vendidad 1.2)
- Aži Višāpa - the 'dragon of poisonous slaver' that consumes offerings to Aban if they are made between sunset and sunrise (Nirangistan 48).
- Gandarəβa - the 'yellow-heeled' monster of the sea 'Vourukasha' that can swallow twelve provinces at once. On emerging to destroy the entire creation of Asha, it too is slain by the hero Kərəsāspa. (Yasht 5.38, 15.28, 19.41)
Stories of monstrous serpents who are killed or imprisoned by heroes or divine beings may date back to prehistory and are found in the myths of many Indo-European peoples, including those of the Indo-Iranians, that is, the common ancestors of both the Iranians and Vedic Indians.
The most obvious point of comparison is that in Vedic Sanskrit ahi is a cognate of Avestan aži. However, In Vedic tradition, the only dragon of importance is Vrtra, but "there is no Iranian tradition of a dragon such as Indian Vrtra" (Boyce, 1975:91-92). Moreover, while Iranian tradition has numerous dragons, all of which are malevolent, Vedic tradition has only one other dragon besides Vṛtra - ahi budhnya, the benevolent "dragon of the deep". In the Vedas, gods battle dragons, but in Iranian tradition, this is a function of mortal heroes.
Thus, although it seems clear that dragon-slaying heroes (and gods in the case of the Vedas) "were a part of Indo-Iranian tradition and folklore, it is also apparent that Iran and India developed distinct myths early." (Skjaervø, 1989:192)
The Huma bird is said to never come to rest, living its entire life flying invisibly high above the earth, and never alighting on the ground (in some legends it is said to have no legs). 
In several variations of the Huma myths, the bird is said to be phoenix-like, consuming itself in fire every few hundred years, only to rise anew from the ashes. The Huma bird is said to have both the male and female natures in one body (reminiscent of the Chinese Fenghuang), each nature having one wing and one leg. Huma is considered to be compassionate, and a 'bird of fortune'  since its shadow (or touch) is said to be auspicious.
In Sufi tradition, catching the Huma is beyond even the wildest imagination, but catching a glimpse of it or even a shadow of it is sure to make one happy for the rest of his/her life. It is also believed that Huma cannot be caught alive, and the person killing a Huma will die in forty days. 
In Ottoman poetry, the creature is often referred to as a 'bird of paradise',   and early European descriptions of the Paradisaeidae species portrayed the birds as having no wings or legs, and the birds were assumed to stay aloft their entire lives.
In Attar of Nishapur's allegorical masterpiece The Conference of the Birds, an eminent example of Sufi works in Persian literature, the Huma bird is portrayed as a pupil that refuses to undertake a journey because such an undertaking would compromise the privilege of bestowing kingship on those whom it flew over. In Iranian literature, this kingship-bestowing function of the Huma bird is identified with pre-Islamic monarchs, and stands vis-a-vis ravens, which is a metaphor for Arabs.  The legend appears in non-Sufi art as well. 
The kingship-bestowing function of the Huma bird reappear in Indian stories of the Mughal era, in which the shadow (or the alighting) of the Huma bird on a person's head or shoulder were said to bestow (or foretell) kingship. Accordingly, the feathers decorating the turbans of kings were said to be plumage of the Huma bird. 
Sufi teacher Inayat Khan gives the bestowed-kingship legend a spiritual dimension: "Its true meaning is that when a person's thoughts so evolve that they break all limitation, then he becomes as a king. It is the limitation of language that it can only describe the Most High as something like a king." 
The Huma bird symbolizes unreachable highness in Turkish folk literature.  Some references to the creature also appear in Sindhi literature, where – as in the diwan tradition – the creature is portrayed as bringing great fortune. In the Zafarnama of Guru Gobind Singh, a letter addressed to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb refers to the Huma bird as a "mighty and auspicious bird".
The characters of Persian mythology almost always fall into one of two camps. They are either good, or they are evil. The resultant discord mirrors the nationalistic ideals of the early Islamic era as well as the moral and ethical perceptions of the Zoroastrian period, in which the world was perceived to be locked in a battle between the destructive Ahriman and his hordes of demonic dews and their un-Iranian supporters, versus the Creator Ormuzd, who although not participating in the day-to-day affairs of mankind, was represented in the world by the izads and the righteous ahlav Iranians.
The most famous legendary character in the Persian epics and mythology is Rostam. On the other side of the fence is Zahhak, a symbol of despotism who was, finally, defeated by Kāve, who led a popular uprising against him. Zahhak (Avestan: Aži Dahāka) was guarded by two vipers which grew out from both of his shoulders. No matter how many times they were beheaded, new heads grew on them to guard him. The snake, like in many other mythologies, was a symbol of evil, but many other animals and birds appear in Iranian mythology, and, especially, the birds were signs of good omen. Most famous of these is the Simurgh, a large beautiful and powerful bird and the Huma bird, a royal bird of victory whose plume adorned the crowns.
Peri (Avestan Pairika), considered a beautiful though evil woman in early mythology, gradually became less evil and more beautiful, until during the Islamic period she became a symbol of beauty similar to the houris of Paradise.
The conflict between good and evil is prevalent in Persian myth and Zoroastrianism.
10 bizarre mythical monsters you should know about by HalloweenIllustration by arif.aly (ZBrush Central)
Posted By: Dattatreya Mandal October 26, 2017
Over the years, we have been entranced, baffled, tantalized and even shocked by the monsters of well-known mythologies, be it the ubiquitous dragon, the gargantuan Kraken or the boisterous Minotaur. Fortunately, the list of legendary beasts and creatures hasn’t run out of potential candidates, even after numerous of the ilk having ‘identified’ starring roles in various cinematic blockbusters from around the world. So, as an ode to the forthcoming Halloween, let us talk about ten mythical monsters that have still not been able to take the center stage in pop-culture, in spite of their frightfully ‘monstrous’ credentials.
1) Amarok (from Inuit mythology) –Illustration by Vinodrams
A fantastical giant wolf from the barren lands of the Arctic, the Amarok is said to hunt alone in contrast to the pack tendencies of its much smaller brethren. Many believe the legend of this lone wolf actually comes from real-time ecological periods when the untraveled deep woods were indeed populated by larger varieties of wolves (like the better known dire wolves). Some also draw parallels of this beast with the Waheela giant wolves that supposedly inhabited the northern parts of Canada. Illustration by Indigohx (DeviantArt)
Interestingly, according to famous Danish geologist Dr. Hinrich Johannes Rink, the term Amarok pertains to only a ‘fabulous’ monster for the Greenlanders, while other Arctic inhabitants believed the Amarok to be a monstrous wolf greater in size than a human being.
2) Aqrabuamelu (from Mesopotamian mythology) –Illustration by Larkin Art (DeviantArt)
The Aqrabuamelu or the Scorpion Men are mentioned in many myths written in the Akkadian language, with the most famous descriptions being in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. They were said to be guardians of the sun god Shamash and were found around his abode at the Mashu mountains.
In terms of portrayal, the Aqrabuamelu are described to have astronomical proportions, with their heads supposedly touching the sky and their mere glances resulting in death. However, they were also depicted as nominally benevolent beings who warned travelers of any danger in their future journeys.
3) Camazotz (from Mayan mythology) –Illustration by Tom Kelly (DeviantArt)
In terms of conventional zoology, all of the three known species of vampire bats are actually native to the New World. So, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that it is Mayan mythology that brings forth the legend of a mythical vampire creature. But the fascinating part is – the Camazotz’s legend does have many similarities to the well-known vampire stories of the later eras. For example, the Camazotz has been described as a purely evil entity with the sole aim to cause terror.
In fact, the legends pertain to the folkloric narrative when the Mayan Gods deliberately let loose the monster from its prison so as to destroy the entire race of Mayans – which would have made way for a new order of humans. This was supposedly done as a punishment to the existing civilization when the people revolted against the bloodthirsty divine will that demanded human sacrifices in return for protection.
4) Erymanthian Boar (from Greek mythology) –
Greek Mythological traditions have brought us a host of exalted creatures, including Kraken, Cyclops, Minotaur, Manticore, and Fury. But the enormous one-ton Erymanthian Boar has seemed to elude pop-cultural references for quite some time now. Residing in the vicinity of Mount Erymanthus, the boar was fabled because of its sharp yet strong canine teeth that were used to gore and impale unfortunate victims who had mistakenly wandered to the ominous location.
Oddly enough, the Erymanthian Boar was considered to be a repugnant form of the Greek god Apollo, who had changed himself into a monster to punish Adonis. But unfortunately for the ginormous creature, the demi-god Hercules successfully captured the boar – as outlined by one of his twelve heroic labors.
5) Ghatotkacha (from Indian mythology) –
Going against the grain of ‘evil’ monsters portrayed in various mythologies, the giant Ghatotkacha was described as a humble and loyal character in the world’s longest known epic poem Mahabharata. He was the son of Bhima, who was one of the heroes of this Sanskrit mythological work, and the giantess (rakshasa) Hidimbi.
Having the blood of the rakshasa endowed Ghatotkacha with many magical powers, including the ability to glide and the capacity to turn into a monstrous giant. Incidentally, he met his tragic death in his very giant form at the climactic Battle of Kurukshetra. According to the legend, when he fell down upon the adjacent soldiers, his massive body simultaneously buried 109,350 men and 21,870 elephants!
6) Gogmagog (from Anglican/Celtic mythology) –Source: Mythical-Creatures Wiki (link)
The other G in our entries, Gogmagog was a muscular humanoid giant from the island of Albion (the ancient name for Britain). Sometimes described as more than 14 ft tall, the monster’s kind was said to have descended from demons. The folklore maintains Gogmagog himself was hideously repulsive in nature, and even draped himself in various animal skins to keep up his unpleasant and intimidating appearance.
Unfortunately for the giant, despite having the strength of 20 men, he was not really known for his tactical abilities. And that proved to the death knell when he was unceremoniously pushed off a steep cliff by the warrior Coineus in a melee combat duel.
7) Hecatoncheires (from Greek mythology) –
The Hecatoncheires was the collective name given to three monsters (Briareus, Cottus and Gyges) who were the children of Gaia and Uranus. And, they were not only known for their frightful enormity, but also for their ghastly arrangement of hundred arms and fifty heads. Even Uranus was so taken back by their ugliness that he decided to push them back into their mother’s womb. On failing to do so, they were subsequently banished to the underworld of Tartarus. Illustration by Silent Kitty (DeviantArt)
However, the Hecatoncheires more than made up for their revolting appearance when they helped the Greek gods in their fight against the Titans, who were also the offspring of Gaia and Uranus. As legend has it, the multi-limbed monsters had the better of their siblings partly aided by their capacity to launch a multitude of rocks at their opponents.
8) Kludde (from Belgian folklore) –Illustration by ChameleonTech (DeviantArt)
A malicious spirit from the desolated parts of the Flemish countryside, the Kludde is said to have the ability to generally take the form of a winged black dog with a blue flame flickering around its macabre visage. Its wolfish nature had led many myth enthusiasts to define the Kludde as a werewolf or even a manifestation of the Devil himself.
Interestingly enough, the original spirit has been slated to be amorphous in nature, and hence the Kludde can take a myriad of forms – including that of a cat, a snake, a frog, a horse and even as a tree or a shrub. And, as every respectable monster, the supernatural being also has the power of speech and speed – both of which helps in ‘catching up’ with its victims.
9) Ogopogo (from Native American mythology) –
Finally, we have a marine-based monster in the form of the Ogopogo, a water serpent with seemingly affable flippers along its flanks and ominous horns along its head. An exceptional part of the folkloric traditions around the Okanagan Lake (presently in British Columbia, Canada), the native tribes even offered dead fishes and live cattle as sacrificial ‘presents’ to the cavernous behemoth.
Did we say cavernous? Well, the serpent supposedly resides inside the dark caverns underneath the deep lake, while the bones of its victims is said to be scattered around the shores of the ‘Monster Island’ on the lake. Some baleful descriptions even frightened the usually adventurous ferry commuters from the early part of the 20th century – so much so that they armed themselves in a daily fashion to defend against the monster during every crossing.
10) Sleipnir (from Norse mythology) –Illustration by Lady Mischief (DeviantArt)
Sleipnir is possibly the ‘fastest monster’ in the world, courtesy of its eight-legs that carried the enchanted gigantic horse across the land, sea and even air. Of course, all of that speed was not just for bragging. Sleipnir is described as Odin’s personal mount, and so it helped the Allfather to travel in a blistering speed between Asgard and Earth.
Quite oddly, all of the super-exhilarating strength and elan are touted to come from Sleipnir’s magical marking on its teeth. And in an interesting note, archaeologists have found numerous depictions of an eight-legged horse from a few 8th-century figure stones etched on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
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Other Mythical Creatures
Other cultures also have their own share of mythical creatures. The following list contains creatures common in Eastern folklore.
This serpent-like legendary creature in European mythology is known to kill with a look of its eyes. It is said to have a crest on its head, earning it its title as a serpent-king.
One of the earliest mentions of the basilisk is in Pliny the Elder’s Natural HIstory. Geoffrey Chaucer also mentions a similar creature called a basilicok in his Canterbury Tales. Other famous writers like William Shakespeare, Robert Browning, and Jonathan Swift make allusions to this mythical creature in their writings.
Finally, in more modern literature, J.K. Rowling features a basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
This supernatural creature’s main aim is to scare children into good behavior. Mothers from generations past could have threatened their children with the bogeyman, making it easily connected with children’s bedrooms and bedtimes.
In modern literature, Stephen King’s It features a bogeyman-like character that teaches children not to trust clowns!
Dragons and Serpents
Dragons and serpents are common figures in world literature, but they do come in different forms. In Eastern folklore, these creatures typically do not have wings, and are known to have great cunning and intelligence. The ancient Near East mythologies describe dragons that look like giant snakes.
In Western legends, though, dragons are typically winged and horned, as well as fire-breathing. These pictures of dragons appear throughout modern literature, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Fairies, also spelled faery or faerie, originate mostly in European folktales. Many cultures view fairies as elementals or spirits of the dead. Usually small, they generally have human-like features, magical powers, and a penchant for trickery.
Romantic art and Renaissance literature often feature fairies, especially during the Victorian and Edwardian years.
Fairies appear in great works of literature, including William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’ Arthur, and the more modern Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
European folklore from the Middle Ages brings us goblins in different forms, qualities, and abilities. The most common traits include greed, mischief, and magical capabilities.
But goblins are not exclusive to European folktales: in South Korea, a creature known as dokkaebi, which is common in children’s nursery rhymes and books, seems uncannily like the goblins. Japanese fairy tales also include a goblin. J.R.R. Tolkien features goblins in his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
These anthropomorphic beings, made of mud or clay, originated in Jewish folklore. Typically, magic brought these golems to life.
In the Talmud, the first man Adam was created first as a golem, a creature made of mud, that was later animated. In the Middle Ages, the Sefer Yetzirah, or Book of Creation, was apparently used as a reference on how to create and animate a golem.
A more modern reference to golems shows up in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, He, She, and It by Marge Piercy, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.
Found mainly in Ancient Egyptian and Persian mythology, the griffin is a hybrid creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body and back legs of a lion. The combination of both the king of birds and the king of the beasts gives the griffin a similar kingly stature.
Griffins are mentioned in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus. A griffin also appears in Dante’s The Divine Comedy, dragging a chariot that meets Dante in Earthly Paradise.
This half-woman half-fish is prominent throughout literature in many cultures: their stories sometimes revolve around sea tragedies such as drownings or shipwrecks, and many tales include a love story between a mermaid and a human.
Hans Christian Andersen popularized the mermaid in his fairy tale, The LIttle Mermaid. Other works featuring mermaids include The Sea Lady by H.G. Wells and The Fisherman and His Soul by Oscar Wilde.
Vampires have taken on many different looks throughout the history of literature, and modern novels such as Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and the Twilight series have shed new light on their character.
Still, the basic premise is that vampires feed on mortal blood in order to remain immortal. One of the earliest portrayals of vampires in literature includes Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
This Southeast Asian evil spirit is known in Malaysia and Indonesia, said to be the manifestation of women’s souls who had died in pregnancy.
These female spirits come with a white dress, pale skin, and long, lang hair. The Phillippine version of this creature goes by the name of “White Lady.”
You can find this creature in the Singapore-set novel entitled Ponti, by Sharlene Teo, which features three women connected by a Pontianak legend-themed film from the 70s.
These humanoids, aka “the walking dead,” get their name from Haitian folklore, but the zombies we now know seem to be a mid-20th century development.
They are essentially walking corpses that want to consume human flesh. The TV series “Walking Dead,” among other modern films, gives us a gory picture of modern zombies.
The unicorn is probably one of the most popular mythological creatures, thanks to its commercialization through children’s TV shows and merchandise.
Its earliest appearance seems to be traced to early artworks in Mesopotamia, although ancient myths from China and India also made reference to it.
A common myth surrounding unicorns was that drinking from its horn could protect against poison, epilepsy, and stomach trouble.
Mythical Creatures: 15 Of The Strangest ‘Hybrids’ From Around The World
Previously, we talked about bizarre mythological monsters and impressive dragons you may have missed out on from popular media like television shows and movies. Well, this time around, with Halloween around the corner, we have decided to up the ante with a myriad of ‘hybrid’ mythical creatures that you may not have known about. So, without further ado, let us check out the brief history and mythology of fifteen of such elusive yet outlandish mythical creatures (ranging from the ancient to the medieval times) that emerge as unearthly crosses between familiar animals and humans. The myriad creatures, presented in alphabetical order, have their origins in myths and legends from different parts of the world.
1) Ammit (from Egyptian Mythology) –
Ominously translating to ‘devourer‘ or ‘soul eater’, the Ammit (also known as Ammut) was an underworld-dwelling ancient Egyptian goddess/demon who personified divine retribution. Having multifaceted anatomy of a lion, hippopotamus and a crocodile, she waited for the opportunity to devour the hearts of people who were deemed unworthy (their worthiness being measured by the scales of Ma’at) – thus cursing their ’empty’ souls to roam aimlessly for eternity, instead of otherworldly bliss. So, in essence, Ammit was not worshiped like other gods rather she epitomized the collective fear of Egyptians that pertained to ‘second death’.
2) Buraq (from Islamic Mythology) –
The Dome of Rock site (as part of the bigger and older Temple Mount) is venerated by Muslims because of its significance as the sacred spot from where Prophet Mohammed rose to heaven in his Night Journey. And, he was supposedly carried to heaven on a fantastical white-hued, horse-like creature named Buraq – that was half-mule (or smaller than a mule), half-donkey (or bigger than a donkey) and had wings. Oddly enough, the eastern sources like Persian and Indian art depict the Buraq to have a humanoid visage and peacock tail, but early-Islamic traditions mention no such specific features.
3) Gajasimha (from Indian Mythology) –
Art by Prasanna Weerakkody
According to Hindu mythology, the Narasimha (or Narasingha) was one among the ten Vishnu avatars with the head of a lion and body of a man. The Gajasimha is most probably a twist on this mythical being (or a variant of Hindu elephant god Ganesha), with its conspicuous elephant head and body of a lion. Unfortunately, there is not much information regarding the hybrid creature, except for numerous sculptural and painted depictions, mostly found in the temples of South East Asia and South India.
4) Hatuibwari (from Melanesian Mythology) –
Hatuibwari has been described to have the head of a human with four eyes, the torso of a huge serpent with imposingly grandiose wings, and sometimes also having four pendulous breasts that signify its status as the primordial ancestor of human beings. Mentioned in various traditions and folklore of Melanesia (a Pacific group of islands northeast of Australia), the Hatuibwari was most probably worshiped as a cosmic creature that created as well as nourished the early humans. Few sources have even put ‘him’ across as a masculine version of Mother Earth – thus serving as an antithesis to the commonly portrayed femininity of our planet.
5) Hippalectryon (from Greek Mythology) –
Credit: CuttlefishDreams Archive
A fantastical creature with depictions as old as 3,000 years, the Hippalectryon is derived from Cretan (or possibly Mycenaean) folklore as a beast with half-horse and half-rooster features. The Athenian comic playwright Aristophanes had described the Hippalectryon as an odd-looking creature with yellowish feathers. The very same author had also made a hypothesis that the origin of the hybrid beast had been influenced by Middle Eastern folkloric traditions. Other sources hint at how the creature may have been an alternative representation of the renowned winged-horse Pegasus. But the most interesting account arguably comes from Aristophanes’s own play ‘The Frogs‘, where he mentions how the Hippalectryon was so comically ugly that it invited laughter from people around, thus driving evil away for good.
6) Khepri (from Egyptian Mythology) –Art by TorVic Ulloa (Art Station)
Intrinsically connected to the scarab beetle, Khepri was usually depicted as a man with a beetle head in Ancient Egyptian funerary papyri. There was a symbolic side to the whole affair of Khepri worship – with the god epitomizing the forces that moved the sun across the vast expanse of the sky. This connection was derived from the action of scarab beetles when they rolled balls of dung across the rigorous desert surface – while the young beetles emerged from inside the dung, from the eggs laid by the parent. This is in fact related to the Egyptian word ‘kheper‘, which roughly translates as – ‘to change’ or ‘to create’. In any case, Khepri was also considered as being subordinate to the more exalted sun god Ra.
7) Matsya (from Indian Mythology) –
Having the head of a human and underpart of a fish, the Matsya might appear to be a variant to the European-origin merman. However, the tradition of the Matsya is far older with the powerful entity being described in Vedic texts as one of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu (like our earlier mentioned Narasimha). And quite interestingly, in a strikingly similar vein to the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark, the Indian Manu also survived a catastrophic flood brought on by the gods, by building a great ark. This ark/boat was guided and pulled by the magnificent Matsya – a heroic feat that ultimately allowed Manu (and his family, animal pets and even collected plant seeds) to be safe to repopulate the earth.
8) Monocerus (from Medieval Legends) –
Derived from the Greek term Μονόκερος, the Monocerus simply pertains to an animal with a single horn, like the unicorn. However, Medieval bestiaries have given a fantastical twist to the hybrid creature by describing it as having the head of a stag, the body of a horse, the legs of an elephant and a tail of a boar. To top that off, the beast had only one horn, and it was supposedly used to aim the belly region of its opponents, namely the elephant!
9) Mušḫuššu (from Mesopotamian Mythology) –
An image that might be familiar to history enthusiasts from the reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate (of Babylon) in the Pergamon Museum, the Mušḫuššu, pronounced – ‘Mush·khush·shu‘ (also known as sirrušu) is rather a cryptic mythical creature which may have even influenced the Lernaean Hydra. In some narratives, the hybrid creature is the favored (or sacred) animal of none other than Marduk – the patron god of ancient Babylon. The name itself possibly refers to a ‘fierce snake’ or ‘splendid serpent’. To that end, the creature has been described as a dragon-like appearance, with a long neck, a horned head with a crest, and a serpentine tongue – complemented by lion (or feline) forelegs and hind legs of an eagle.
10) Nawarupa (from Burmese Mythology) –
Literally meaning having ‘nine forms’, Nawarupa, also known as byala (especially Arakenese myths), is a hybrid mythical creature that is said to have the multifarious composition from nine different animals. Often used in motifs that bedecked the royal barges, the creature is described as the having the conspicuous trunk of an elephant, the horns of a rhino, the eyes of a deer, the ears of a horse, the wings (or possibly tongue) of a parrot, the body of a lion, the tail of a peacock (or yak), and feet of Chinthe (the griffin like creatures often depicted in Buddhist pagoda complexes). A similar mythical critter known as the Pyinsarupa (‘five forms’) is used as a heraldic device of Myanmar’s current flagship air carrier.
11) Onocentaur (from Greek Mythology) –Credit: DrawMill
Some of us must know about the renowned centaur, the mythical Greek beast with the head and torso of human and legs of a horse. Well, as it turns out, there is a less-impressive variant to the centaur, called the Onocentaur. Those who know their etymology must have already recognized its donkey credentials. And beyond Onocentaur’s ‘half-assed’ anatomy, the liminal being was supposedly mentioned for the first time by Pythagoras, while its female form was known as the onokentaura in Latin – as described by Roman author Claudius Aelianus. Furthermore, Greek poetic mythology makes mention of another exotic centaur hybrid known as Ichthyocentaur – with the upper torso of a man, the lower front of a horse and tail of a fish!
12) Pazuzu (from Babylonian Mythology) –Source: Shin Megami Tensei II
For those who ‘observe’ their movies might identify the Pazuzu from the famous horror-thriller ‘The Exorcist’. In mythological terms, the winged Pazuzu also had some ominous and unsightly aspects with its dog head, eagle-like feet, a scorpion’s tail, and a serpentine private part! As can be gathered from such frightful features, the monster was depicted as the demon of winds who could bring upon catastrophic famines during the rainy seasons. However, the Pazuzu was also invoked to lead the fight against other evil spirits, namely the Lamashtu, a malevolent Akkadian goddess who kidnapped infants by snatching them away from their mother’s breasts.
13) Qilin (from Chinese Mythology) –
In Chinese legends, the Qilin goes hand in hand with whimsicality and mysticism. Also known as the Chinese Unicorn, the spotting of the venerable beast signifies the birth (or death) of a sage or eminent ruler. The innocuous features of the creature are depicted as – having a body of a deer with a single horn, a tail of an ox and hooves of a horse, while their backs projected a vivacious palette of various colors that was complemented by a yellowish belly. Other descriptions of the Qilin entail dragon-like attributes with thick eyelashes and back scales. However, the most interesting episode of the Qilin would pertain to – when a real giraffe was (possibly) presented as the mythical creature to China’s Ming emperor Yongle.
14) Tarasque (from French Folklore) –
Tarasque is mentioned in various sources, but the most renowned account of the terrifying beast comes from the Medieval ‘bestseller’ Golden Legend (or Legenda sanctorum in Latin), compiled (possibly) in circa 1260 AD. It has been described as a dragon or a dragon-like creature with a head of a lion, a body of an ox covered with a turtle shell, legs (six of them) of a bear and finally a scaled tail that ended up like that of a scorpion. According to the Golden Legend, it dwelt in a marsh along river Rhone, and pounced upon unsuspecting travelers with its “sword-like teeth and sharp horns”. As for its origins, the mythical being was said to come from the region of Galatia (in present-day Turkey) – the homeland of its legendary bison-like parent, Onachus.
15) Wolpertinger (from German Folklore) –
Source: World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
A creature that is said to inhabit the picturesque forests of Bavaria, the origins of Wolpertinger might come from popular culture inspired by earlier myths and folklore. Often perceived as a ‘mashup’ of various animals and their parts, the Wolpertinger does bear similarity to the mythical Rasselbock from Thuringia (southern Germany) and even the Jackalope of America. To that end, the critter is described as having the head of a hare (or rabbit), the body of a squirrel (or hare), the antlers of a deer, and wings (and sometimes webbed feet) of a pheasant or duck. Interestingly enough, the popular lore associated with the Wolpertinger pertains to how they are only enticed by beautiful human females.
Which Greek Mythological Creature Are You? - Personality Quiz
The ancient mythology presented us to all kinds of fabulous creatures and beasts.
The Greek, Egyptian, and Persian mythologies introduced many of these fantastic creatures and produced some of the most fascinating tales.
Besides numerous deities and gods, the ancient Greek folklore also suggested the existence of many legendary creatures.
Many of those mythological monsters are hybrids, sometimes part-human or a combination of multiple animals.
The folklore tells us that these creatures possessed special powers like fire breathing, hypnosis, madness induction, superhuman strength, the ability to turn people into stone, and so on.
A few of the most popular creatures of Greek mythology are:
- Cerberus - also known as the hound of Hades is a multi-headed dog that watches the gates of the Underworld.
- Medusa - depicted as a winged human female with venomous snakes instead of her hair. She could turn anyone who looked at her face into stone.
- Minotaur - a beast with superhuman strength portrayed as part man and part bull.
- Cyclopes - giant one-eyed creatures.
- Centaur - a creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.
- Hydra - was a serpent-like monster with many heads who would regrow and multiply if cut.
- Chimera - a fire-breathing creature resembling a lion in the forepart, a goat in the midst, and a dragon behind.
- Pegasus - a mythical winged divine horse.
- Griffin - a legendary creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion which was usually described as guarding gold treasures.
These are only a few of the most popular mythological beasts, but there are many other fabulous creatures that appear in the Greek tales and folklore.
Greek mythology usually describes these creatures as living in very distant places or guarding certain treasures, gates, or extremely valuable items.
Some of these monstrosities were actually the sons of various deities or kings or the result of their infidelity and infatuation.
We could talk all day about Greek mythology, gods, and the legendary creatures that these refer to, but that's not our purpose.
Since now you know a few things about the legendary creatures of this fascinating mythology, are you ready to take a fun personality quiz and find out which Greek mythological creature are you?
We have created a fun quiz that will determine which mythical beast you relate the most with based on your personality, preferences, and behavior.
The rules of the game are simple. Just answer all the questions as sincerely as possible and at the end of the quiz, we'll reveal the result. There is no time limit so take all the time you need.
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The hippogriff has always been presented as a rare creature. Charlemagne’s knights were said to have liked hippogriffs better than horses and they used them more often. This creature is thought to be the result of a combination between a griffin and a mare, thus having the head of a vulture, the body of a horse, strong wings, and the front paws of a lion.
Roger délivrant Angélique (1824) by Louis-Édouard Rioult depicts the scene of Orlando Furioso where Ruggiero rescues Angelique while riding on a hippogriff. ( Public Domain )
The hippogriff can supposedly fly faster and higher than any bird. Also, it was said to be first tamed by the magician Atlante. This creature is believed to have enough strength to fly from one part of the globe to the other. It is also known for teasing those who try to capture it, but once it is tamed it is very loyal.