A myth that never sets: the mermaids

Mermaids are mythological creatures that have fascinated people all over the world for centuries.

A half-human, half-fish creature that lives in the depths of the sea and that only emerges on the surface on rare occasions, both for simple reasons of curiosity and for hunting purposes ... what could be more magical and mysterious?
The figure of the mermaid is very probably the most loved and widespread, as well as abused in modern culture: whether it is for a film or for an advertisement, it always receives a certain attention. But will it be because they are always represented as beautiful women with colorful and sparkling tails, with melodious voices and with crabs and fish as friends? Likely. But if we analyze the myth, there is much more to analyze and study.



Let's start by saying that once, before sea maidens were represented as we know them today, they were half reproduced birds and not fish, just like harpies. Then the tradition began to modify their appearance as we know it today. From Asia to Africa, we find different types of mermaids and stories related to their origin, some romantic and with happy endings, others instead have dark and not very happy implications. No wonder after all, so many mythological figures are represented with two different faces that glorify goodness or evil.
Just to give an example, just think of the myth of Ulysses in which mermaids are described as beings who use their hypnotic song to attract sailors in such a way as to make them shipwreck and kill them.


Everything we find on fish women is mainly linked to ancient history.
It is very interesting to note that throughout history, even in more modern times; there have been so-called "sightings" that have allowed the legend to be repeatedly fueled by the hope of finding one in flesh and blood. Many, taking advantage of this dream; they see an easy income and Phineas Taylor Barnum (American entrepreneur and circus performer) was the smartest of all because he managed to give his audience exactly what they wanted: a mermaid in flesh and blood! Obviously it was a fake. Most likely a collage of two different poor animals. But people didn't care because that evidence proved an always sought-after truth.



Coming out of the world of fairy tales and legends, as mentioned at the beginning, our culture makes a lot of use of this figure to make us a bit of everything.
Someone will surely have immediately thought of the Disney film “The Little Mermaid”, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fable, but it is only the tip of a large immense iceberg: logos, blankets, mugs, backpacks… there is something for all tastes. It is not easy to resist something so captivating, especially when you are a child and I assure you that it is not an exclusive pleasure of little girls.
But here we are only talking about objects, the “mermaid-mania” reaches other heights that are sometimes a bit crazy like live performances in themed restaurants by expert swimmers and even, since 1983; there is also a themed parade with floats and costumes that takes place in Coney Island.

Obviously art is no exception. On the other hand, how could we ignore such a source of inspiration? You get lost in a whirlwind of paintings, statues and novels that, each with their own personal touch and vision; they attempt to capture the magical and distinct essence of this being. Actually drawing a mermaid (or triton) according to your point of view is fun, especially when you can get out of the box and create crazy combinations not necessarily linked to the classic canons we are used to seeing. To celebrate this freedom of interpretation, there is a special event called the “Mermay challenge” which takes place right now in the month of May (Mermay is the cobination of: Mer: from mermaid, and May).


The goal of this challenge is to be able to draw every day, for the whole month; an element proposed by the list published by the author but whose subject must always be the same. In this case the fish woman.
The author of this idea is Tom Bancroft, Disney artist and animator; best known for his creation of the character Mulan - the dragon Mushu. He has worked on projects such as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, Brother Bear and others.


In short, many people love mermaids and a lot.
Whether is a child or an adult, her legend will continue to fascinate any mortal who looks over her tail.
Of course it is difficult to think that something like this could really exist ... but who knows? After all, we still don't know what really hides us in the depths of our seas.



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