Unicorns in Ancient Africa

The unicorn above comes from an ancient Coptic Christian manuscript from an African Coptic community. If you look at it closely, you can see that the drawing of the unicorn gives it the claws and the legs of a lion, and a head of a goat. This is mostly symbolic of how dangerous the unicorn was understood to be, and how it was associated with demonic forces. There is an ancient Coptic Christian folk tale of how, they day Jesus died, a unicorn went to the tomb where his body was laid to rest to bring his soul to the underworld. When the unicorn observed Jesus was alive, the unicorn fled in terror. That the unicorn would be associated with the underworld might be from early Christianity’s close contact with Assyrian mythology, where the unicorn was associated with the two daughters of the moon, one of whom was the goddess Erishkigal, queen of the underworld.

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