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Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art

by John Vinycomb


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This is a review of the folk-lore of animals, mostly of a legendary or purely symbolic nature, particularly as appearing in English Heraldry. It's a gold-mine of lore about such fantastic beasts as the hydra, the basilisk, the phoenix, as well as angels, dragons, mermaids, sphynxes and so on. Vinycomb also covers heraldic versions of actual animals, such as the 'Tyger,' and the Heraldic Pelican and Dolphin. Included are over a hundred illustrations of fantastic creatures. Overall, a delight for browsing.--J.B. Hare, May 25, 2009.

Title Page
List of Illustrations

Notes on Animated Beings in Heraldic Art

The Symbolism of Attitude or Position
The Heraldic Spirit—Effective decorative Quality essential in Heraldry

Celestial Beings

Mistaken Modern Conception of Angels
Mediæval Art Treatment of Angels
Cherubim and Seraphim in Heraldry
Cherubim & Seraphim of Scripture
Emblems of the Four Evangelists

Chimerical Creatures of the Dragon and Serpent kind

The Dragon
The Dragon in Christian Art
St. George and the Dragon
The Dragon in the Royal Heraldry of Britain
The Crocodile as the Prototype of the Dragon
The Heraldic Dragon
The Hydra
The Wyvern
The Chimera
The Lion-Dragon
The Gorgon
The Cockatrice
The Basilisk
The Mythical Serpent
The Scorpion

Other Chimerical Creatures and Heraldic Beasts

The Unicorn
Mediaeval Conception of the Unicorn
The Horn of the Unicorn
The Pegasus
Sagittary, Centaur, Sagittarius, Centaurus, Hippocentaur
The Griffin
The Male Griffin
Other Varieties of the Griffin
The Opinicus, or Epimacus
The Sphynx
The Phœnix Bird of the Sun
The Harpy
The Heraldic Pelican
The Martlet
The Alerion
The Liver (Cormorant)
The Heraldic Tigre or Tyger
The Royal Tiger
Leopard, or Panther, Felis Pardus, Lybbarde
The Panther Incensed
The Lynx
Cat-a-Mountain—Tiger Cat or Wild Cat
The Salamander
Heraldic Antelope
Heraldic Ibex
The Camelopard, Camel-leopard
Musimon, Tityrus
The Enfield
Mantiger, Montegre or Manticora Satyral
Lamia or Emipusa

Fictitious Creatures of the Sea

Introductory Notes
Poseidon or Neptune
Merman or Triton
The Mermaid or Siren
The Sirens of Classical Mythology
The Dolphin of Legend and of Heraldry
The Dauphin of France
The Heraldic Dolphin
The Sea-Horse