Unicorn Legends


The Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la Licorne) : Sight Tapestry - Paris, Musee National du Moyen Age, Thermes de Cluny, France Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

The associations between unicorns and all things feminine is nothing new, but where did it come from? Cristen and Caroline dive into unicorns' history as goddesses' pets, symbols for Christ and the stars of Lisa Frank trapper keepers.

When seen from the side, the Arabian oryx's two long straight horns seem to merge into one.
When seen from the side, the Arabian oryx's two long straight horns seem to merge into one.
JAMAL NASRALLAH/AFP/Getty Images
Embroidered silk depicting a Chi lin unicorn, China. Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th century.
Embroidered silk depicting a Chi lin unicorn, China. Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th century.
Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
A fragment of 13th century mosaic floors in the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, founded in the fifth century in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
A fragment of 13th century mosaic floors in the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, founded in the fifth century in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
De Agostini/D. Agli Orti/Getty Images

Episode Sources:

"What's the deal with the relationship between girls and unicorns?" http://jezebel.com/5016283/whats-the-deal-with-the-relationship-between-girls-and-unicorns

"Why do girls love horses, unicorns and dolphins?" http://www.npr.org/2011/02/09/133600424/why-do-girls-love-horses-unicorns-and-dolphins

"The bizarre history of our obsession with unicorns" http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-bizarre-history-of-our-obsession-with-unicorns-1466476905

"Why do we love unicorns so much?" http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/29823/1/why-do-we-love-unicorns-so-much

"Unicorns in medieval and Renaissance art -- on show at New York" http://www.thecultureconcept.com/unicorns-in-medieval-renaissance-art-on-show-at-new-york

"Chasing unicorns in art across the ages" http://www.artnews.com/2013/05/23/unicorns-in-art/

"The unofficial history of unicorns" http://mashable.com/2014/02/23/unofficial-history-of-unicorns/#piTL2dWDfZqC

Academic Insights:

"The association of the lady and the unicorn, and the hunting mythology of the Caucasus." David Hunt. Folklore. Vol. 114, No. 1. Pages 75-90. April 2003. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30035068?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

"The medieval unicorn: Historical and iconographic applications of psychoanalysis." I. Mohacsy. The Journal of of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis.Vol. 16, No. 1. Pages 83-106. January 1988. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2448274

"The Natural History of Unicorns." Chris Lavers. Granta Books, 2009. https://www.amazon.com/Natural-History-Unicorns-Chris-Lavers/dp/0060874155