Manticore

The manticore is a lion-like monster from Indian mythology.

The manticore is an animal found in India. It is the size of the lion, has a face like a man, its skin is as red as blood and the end of its tail is a large stinger like a scorpion. It has a mouth that stretches from year to year with three rows of teeth on its upper and lower jaws. These teeth are family sharp and are larger than the fangs of a hound. Its eyes are blue grey like those of a man and its ears are similar to a man's except they are longer and shaggy. Though it has a man's face, it cannot speak a human language, any noises it does make sounds like a combination of pipes and a trumpet.

The stinger at the end of its tail delivers a fatal sting to anyone unlucky enough to feel it. Along its back on either side of its tail, it has poisonous hairs that it can shoot out like arrows up to 100 feet. These hairs are about a foot long and as thick as a small rush. Anything hit with one of these hairs will be killed with the exception of the elephant. The manticore can grow these hairs back after they have been shot.

Hunting the manticore is done with spears and arrows from the back of an elephant, not only to help protect against the manticore's staying but also because the beast is very swift and can make powerful leaps. The natives hunt the young of these animals before their tail is fully-grown. When they find one, they will crush the tail with a stone to prevent the stinger from developing.

The manticore stocks through the forest in search of not one man, but two or three men at a time and even then, it will overcome their numbers. When he finds its prey, it will fire its poisonous hairs at the victim. If these hit, the person will die and the manticore will eat them. The manticore eats its victims completely including all the persons clothing, possessions, and even their bones. The manticore delights in gorging on human flesh, its name literally means man-eater. If someone completely disappears, it is blamed on the manticore.

Not all scholars believe the initial accounts of these creatures. One such man, Pausanias, believed that the creature that was actually killing people was a tiger. He believed it was a false story that was passed on from one to another because of their great fear of the beast. Other scholars such as Pliny the Elder as well as Bartholomaeus Anglicus spoke of the creature in their encyclopedias.

As the manticore myth evolved, other features such as bat wings and ram’s horns are added to the creature’s already ferocious look. Even though the creature was obviously a myth, the manticore was still illustrated and documented in bestiaries throughout the Middle Ages. During the 16th century, the manticore made an appearance in heraldry. From this, painters used it in paintings called 'grotteschi' or grotesque. In one painting, it was presented as a monstrous chimera with a beautiful woman's face. This, in turn, was used as the French conception of the sphinx.

Also in the Middle Ages, the manticore was used as a symbol for the prophet Jeremiah because it was believed the manticore lived in the depths of the earth and Jeremiah was thrown into a pit. The Christian church adopted the manticore as a symbol of envy, tyranny and an embodiment of evil. It was considered an unholy hybrid of the astrological signs Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. In the 16th century, a manticore was graffitied onto a wall of North Cerney in Gloucestershire, England.