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Dragons And Animals Of The Natural And The Mythical Realms

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Chapter Summary

Ancient Near Eastern animal motifs such as the theme of combatant animals figure prominently in the decorative repertoire of the medieval Islamic period. Animal combat scenes also appear to reflect the visual language of so-called Steppe Empire Eurasian "animal style" art. Human-headed mythical creatures, generally identified as harpies, sphinxes or centaurs, were portrayed with limbs transforming into dragon heads on diverse objects of the Eastern Islamic world. From ancient times the bird and the serpent represented two of the mightiest cosmic entities. The symbiosis of the dragon with a feline predator, two creatures carrying associations not only of great danger, but of royalty, is alluded to in Iranian literature. On textiles of the early medieval period the imagery of the elephant, the giant among animals, was fairly frequent. .

Keywords: animal combat scenes; bird; dragon; Eastern Islamic world; elephant; feline; mythical creatures; serpent



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